It’s a moment for the history books. After an incredible performance at Rio 2016, Team GB are celebrating their most successful Olympic Games. Earning a historic 2nd place finish in the Olympic medal table with a whopping haul of 67 medals – 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze – Britain becomes the first ever nation to better its performance at the Olympics following a home Games.
“Our athletes have done the nation proud in Rio,” commented Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport and Nottingham alumna (Chemistry, 1974). “London 2012 helped us secure long-term investment from Government and, alongside the National Lottery, is enabling us to build a real legacy of success, evident in the historic performance of our athletes at Rio 2016. We are committed to maintaining this momentum into Tokyo 2020, where I believe we can win even more medals.”
As we celebrate the amazing sporting achievements of our Olympians, find out how your fellow alumni got on when they competed at the Games.
Medal success on the water
The first British canoe slalom athlete to be selected for three successive Games, David Florence (Mathematical Physics, 2005) is now a triple Olympic silver medallist after achieving success in the Men’s C2 event with partner Richard Hounslow. It was a disappointing start to the Games for David as he missed out on a medal in the Men’s C1 event. But with a smooth qualification to the Men’s C2 final, David’s medal hopes remained alive. After clocking a time of 102.01 seconds – +0.43 behind the Slovakian gold medallist team – there was a nail-biting wait for the British pair as they had to watch the German pair navigate the course before their silver medal could be confirmed. It’s a fantastic result for David, who now has a collection of medals from each of the Games he's competed in.
David wasn’t the only Nottingham graduate who saw success out on the water in Rio. Two-time Olympian Melanie Wilson (Biochemistry and Genetics, 2005) has won her first Olympic medal, achieving silver in the Women’s Eight Rowing. After a sluggish start Britain were sitting at the back of the pack at the halfway point but powered through the second half of the race to claim the silver medal – the first ever Olympic medal won by a British Women’s Eight team!
Representing their country
For dedicated athletes around the world, competing at the Olympics is the ultimate goal. Across a whole range of sports, our alumni athletes achieved that goal as they proudly represented their country, and your University, on the world stage at the Games.
Featuring three Nottingham alumni – Nick Catlin (History, 2012), George Pinner (Management Studies, 2009) and Harry Martin (Economics, 2015) – the Team GB Men's Hockey team recovered from an early defeat to Belgium and draw against New Zealand to overwhelm host nation Brazil and storm to a mighty 9 – 1 victory – including a goal from Harry. But with a 2 – 1 loss against Australia in the following match, the team placed 5th in their group and unfortunately didn't progress into the quarter finals.
In the Men's Lightweight Four Rowing, Chris Bartley (Biology, 2005) and team powered through the heats to secure a place in the semi-final. But as the wind caused havoc out on the water, it wasn't meant to be for the British team as they finished in 4th place with Italy, France and New Zealand pulling forward to take the top three places to progress to the finals.
At this year's Games, it wasn't just Team GB that benefited from the talents of our alumni athletes. Saracens and USA Eagles star Chris Wyles (Politics, 2006) represented Team USA as Rugby Sevens made its Olympic debut at the Games this year. The team achieved a stunning 26 – 0 victory over host nation Brazil, but with losses against Argentina, Spain and eventual gold-medallists Fiji, the team placed 9th in the final standings.
Meanwhile, representing Team Nigeria in the Men's K1 event, canoe slalom athlete Johny Akinyemi (Philosophy, 2010) missed out on a place in the semi-finals. But as the only African in the competition, and the first Nigerian to compete in a canoeing event at the Olympic Games, Johny's Olympic journey was a noteworthy success.
An exciting future
We're extremely proud of all of our alumni athletes that have taken part in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We'll be keeping up-to-date with their progress over the coming years and hope to see them competing again in Tokyo 2020.
Here at Nottingham, we're creating more opportunities than ever before for promising young athletes to enhance their training and hone their skills. Look out for exciting news about the latest developments at our David Ross Sports Village and sport investment programme coming this autumn.
Posted on Wednesday 31st August 2016