Rio 2016: Can Team GB better London 2012 success?

Off the back of their most successful Olympic Games since 1908, Great Britain are heading to Rio de Janeiro to write the next chapter in the nation's sporting history.

Rio 2016: Can Team GB better London 2012 success?
Team GB took home a record 65 medals from London 2012. (Image: Team GB)

Off the back of London 2012, Great Britain's most successful Olympic Games since 1908, Team GB are heading to Rio de Janeiro to write the next chapter in the nation's sporting history.

No host country has increased its medal tally at the next Olympic Games and Team GB will have to record their best medal tally at an overseas game if they are to beat their target of 48 medals (one more than their tally at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing).

Which sports will Team GB prosper in and where do their medal hopes lie?


After finishing fourth in the track and field medal standings in London, Team GB will be hoping to build on their six medals - including four gold - from 2012.

In terms of gold potential, familiar names are in the mix. Mo Farah (5,000m and 10,000m) and Greg Rutherford (long jump) are both gold medal hopes as they defend their titles in Rio. It would be unwise, however, to write off the Kenyan challenge that poses a threat to Farah, particularly in the 5,000m, while Rutherford is ranked only the seventh best long jumper in the world this year.  

Britain's heptathlon chances are extremely strong with Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson poised to go head-to-head as Ennis-Hill looks to defend her title. Laura Muir has a great chance of a medal in the 1500m after breaking the British record at the recent Anniversary Games. There are also promising young athletes coming through in many events who could breakthrough onto the international stage.

Will Mo Farah defend his 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Rio de Janeiro? | Photo: Getty Images
Will Mo Farah defend his 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Rio de Janeiro? | Photo: Getty Images


After winning three gold as well as silver and bronze medals at London 2012 and the success that has followed, British boxing is arguably at the highest it has ever been. Britain will send 12 boxers to compete at this summer's Olympics - Team GB's largest Olympic boxing squad in 32 years - and they will be hoping to repeat the success of Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua from four years ago. 

Adams is in Rio to defend her flyweight title and become Britain's first two-time Olympic boxing champion. She is the hot favourite in her division and heads to Rio in form having become world champion in May. Joe Joyce is expected to dominate the men's super heavyweight division after winning gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and at last year's inaugural European Games in Baku.


Team GB won four medals in London, including two gold. However, the athletes who won the two gold medals will not be present in Rio (Ed McKeever in the K1 200m sprint and Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie in the C2 slalom).

Britain's main medal hope is David Florence in the C1 and C2 slalom; in Beijing he won silver in the C1 and he was favourite to win gold in London, but only finished 10th. He bounced back in the C2 slalom with Richard Hounslow, winning a silver medal. Florence heads to Rio determined to go one better than four years ago and in Beijing, and he is well placed as the C1 world champion and he and Hounslow are likely to be in contention again in the C2.


With an unprecedented medal haul at the last two Olympic Games, the GB cycling team have set their personal bar so high it is almost unthinkable that they could sustain the same level of success.

Team GB dominated the track in London four years ago, winning eight of the 10 events, but the cycling team has a different look to it this time. Sir Dave Brailsford was replaced by Shane Sutton, before he resigned as technical director amid allegations of sexism and bullying. There will be no six-time gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy or double gold medallist Victoria Pendleton in Rio, while Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have returned to the track.

The Brits arrive as world champions in just two of the Olympic events (Jason Kenny in the men's sprint and Laura Trott in the women's omnium), compared to six out of 10 four years ago. However, there is plenty of cause to think that Rio 2016 will yield another handsome medal haul, with the men and women's team pursuit teams heavily fancied.

On the road and the picture is very bright. Now a three-time Tour de France winner and one of the most accomplished climbers in the world, Chris Froome is heavily tipped to thrive on both the men's road race and time trial courses. Lizzie Armistead is the reigning women's road race World Champion as she bids to go one better than her silver at London 2012.


In diving, Tom Daley is the standout name. He is competing at his third Olympic Games and will be hoping to better his bronze medal from London 2012 in the individual competition. Daley will also compete with debutant Dan Goodfellow in the 10m synchronised event, while Jack Laugher could be one to watch in Rio. The 21-year-old won two bronze medals at last year's World Championships in Russia becoming only the second British diver to win an individual World Championships medal, and alongside Chris Mears he also claimed Great Britain's first podium finish at that level in the synchronised event.

Can Tom Daley repeat his success from four years ago? | Photo: Getty Images
Can Tom Daley repeat his success from four years ago? | Photo: Getty Images


Having never won a medal in dressage in Olympic history, British riders dominated the event in 2012, winning two gold's (both team and individual). Charlotte Dujardin leads the hopes again in the dressage in Rio her partnership with horse Valegro looks well placed to win individual and team gold's, just as it did at London 2012.

William Fox-Pitt, who is aiming for Olympic glory in Rio just 10 months after being placed in an induced coma, leads the eventing team who have won a medal at every Olympic Games since 2000. Nick Skelton makes history by appearing at his seventh Olympic Games in the jumping team which also claimed gold four years ago.


Billed as the fifth major of the season, golf is back on the Olympic Games schedule this year for the first time in over a century. Jordan Rose and Danny Willett are competing for Team GB in the men's event, with Charley Hull and Catriona Matthew in the women's event. Rose has been regularly in contention in major's over recent years and won the US Open in 2013, while Willett produced a nerveless final round at this year's Masters to win the famous green jacket.

Matthew's career has spanned three decades, with this her 22nd year on the tour. The highlight so far was winning The Open in 2009 and winning a medal in Rio would be the icing on the cake for the Scot. Charley Hull is only 20-years-old and holds the record as the youngest competitor at the Solheim Cup and she will not be fazed by the occasion.


Great Britain’s gymnasts won four medals in 2012 (one silver, three bronze) and, since London, success has continued to build over a wider spectrum. China, Japan and the USA will be strong, but Team GB has its best hopes yet in gymnastics.

Team medals are within the grasp of both the men and the women, and if 2012 was all about Louis Smith, then 2016 is the turn of Max Whitlock, who is one of the favourites for an all-around medal. Whitlock and Smith are big hopes in the pommel horse discipline and look set to win Team GB's first gymnastics gold medal in the history of the Olympic Games.

Can Max Whitlock (left) and Louis Smith (right) win Team GB's first gold medal in gymnastics? | Photo: Getty Images
Can Max Whitlock (left) and Louis Smith (right) win Team GB's first gold medal in gymnastics? | Photo: Getty Images


Team GB's judoka surpassed expectations in London with a silver and bronze medal and it is not easy to predict whether they will repeat their success in Rio because one false move and the Olympic dream is over for the athlete. Britain head into Rio having had their best ever Grand Prix and Grand Slam medal hauls over the last four years along with European and Commonwealth medallists.

Gemma Gibbons is the notable absentee after winning silver in 2012, but Natalie Powell will be seeded in the women's 78kg category, which puts her in a strong position going into the Games. While Team GB haven't got any other seeds at Rio, there are a number of judoka's in the top-20 in the world and they will be hoping to mount a challenge.


Great Britain dominated on the water at Eton Dorney in 2012, topping the medal chart with four gold's, two silvers and three bronzes, and the rower's once again carry some of Britain's biggest medal hopes. 

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning will row in the women's pair and they are unbeaten together since 2011 - a run of 36 races. The duo, as well as the men's eight, are among Britain's leading contenders for a gold medal on the water in Rio, while the men's quad are also a big hope.

Other contenders include Kath Copeland and Charlotte Taylor and Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers in the men's and women's lightweight doubles together with Alan Campbell in the single.


Britain won five sailing medals at London 2012, with Sir Ben Ainslie securing the only gold. Ainslie, Iain Percy and the late Andrew Simpson all moved into the America's Cup following London 2012. Their departures caused some concern as to Britain's medal hopes in Rio, but prospects remain good.

Giles Scott is well placed to continue where Ainslie left off and is a red-hot favourite for a gold medal in the Finn class. He has been beaten just once since April 2013 and picked up his third World Championship title last November.

2012 silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are out to avenge their defeat four years ago in the 470 class. Other medals hopes include Nick Thompson, Alison Young and Luke Patience and Elliot Willis in the men's 470 class.


Team GB's swimmers failed to win gold and took only three medals in total from London in what was a major disappointment. However, British swimming looks in line to bounce back in Rio, with a number of medal hopes in the pool.

Their biggest hope is 21-year-old Adam Peaty, who will be competing in his first Olympic Games, in the breaststroke and 4x100m relay. He rose to prominence in 2014 when he took two medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, before breaking three world records on his way to gold medals in the 50m and 100m breaststroke as well as the 4x100m medley relay at last year's World Championships.

Other contenders in the pool are Ross Murdoch (200m breaststroke), James Guy (200m and 400m freestyle), Siobhan-Marie O'Connor (200m medley) and Jazz Carlin (400m and 800m freestyle).

Adam Peaty rose to prominence at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. | Photo: Getty Images
Adam Peaty rose to prominence at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. | Photo: Getty Images


Jade Jones secured Team GB's first ever Olympic gold medal in taekwondo in 2012, while Lutalo Muhammad also took home a bronze medal in London, and both are medal hopes in Rio. Bianca Walkden, who missed London 2012 through injury, will be hoping to add an Olympic gold medal to her collection after winning gold at back-to-back European Championships along with a gold medal at last year's World Championships.


Team GB have won more Olympic tennis medals than any other country. However, Andy Murray's gold medal at London 2012 was the first they had won in men's singles for 104 years. Murray heads to Rio as defending champion buoyed by winning his third grand slam title and with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka not competing in Brazil, Murray and Novak Djokovic are outstanding favourites.

Murray and Laura Robson won a silver medal in the mixed doubles in 2012, and the best chance for a second tennis medal for Team GB in Rio predictably lies again with Murray, who is also in the doubles with his brother, Jamie. British number one Johanna Konta could also be a contender in the women's singles.


The Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Alistair Brownlee is the favourite on a hilly Rio course to defend his Olympic title. In the absence of Javier Gomez, Mario Mola is Brownlee's most likely challenger along with brother, Jonny Brownlee, who will be hoping to upgrade the bronze he won in London.

In the women's event, the American Gwen Jorgensen is the favourite, but Helen Jenkins, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland will be hoping to claim a medal for Team GB.