The most successful British Olympians by gold medals won are Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny, who have won six gold (and one silver) medals each in track cycling; two British Olympians come next with five gold medals – fellow cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins, and Sir Steve Redgrave, who won five gold medals in five consecutive Games in rowing, a record for an endurance event. Sailor Sir Ben Ainslie jointly holds the Great Britain record for most individual Olympic gold medals with Chris Hoy and Sir Mo Farah with four, and the most gold medals in a single event with three gold medals (in the Men's Finn class sailing event 2004–2012) - again shared with Jason Kenny (men's team sprint 2008–2016), Steve Redgrave (men's coxless pair 1988–1996) and Ed Clancy (men's team pursuit 2008-2016). Sir Chris Hoy holds the record for gold medals in different events, having reached the top step in four different disciplines – men's kilo, men's team sprint, men's match sprint and men's kierin.
Cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins has the most overall medals by a British Olympian (and thus often referred to in the media as the "most decorated British Olympian") with eight.Sir Steve Redgrave is the only British Olympian to win a gold medal in five consecutive Olympic Games, winning his first in 1984 Los Angeles and last in 2000 Sydney. With five golds and a bronze, Redgrave is the most successful Olympic male rower of all time.
The most successful female Olympian for GB is cyclist Laura Trott, who has four gold medals, while the most decorated female Olympians are Katherine Grainger and Kathleen McKane Godfree, with five medals each - one gold and four silver for Grainger, a gold, two silver and two bronze for McKane Godfree. Alongside five time gold medalist Redgrave, Grainger, Ainslie, Wiggins and Jack Beresford are the only British Olympians to win medals of any colour in five successive Games. In 1908, the country finished in the Olympic table in first place for the first and only time in its history; its most successful performance both post-War and away from a home Games was in 2016, finishing second.
Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny are jointly the most successful cyclists in Olympic history and Ben Ainslie, with four golds at consecutive Games and a silver medal, is the most successful sailor in Olympic history.
Great Britain has hosted the Summer Games on three occasions – 1908, 1948 and 2012, all in London – second only to the United States. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Great Britain became the first country to win more medals at a Summer Olympics immediately after hosting a Summer Olympics; they won 67 medals overall, coming in second place in the medal table ahead of China, two more than in London in 2012. This success came 20 years after finishing 36th in the medal table, after winning just one gold and fourteen other medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, which led to significant changes into the management and funding of British sports and facilities.
At the Winter Olympics as a non-alpine nation Great Britain has historically been unable to replicate the amount of success they have achieved in the Summer Olympics although in recent years with the expansion of the Winter Olympics to include sports such as Curling, Snowboarding, Skeleton and Freestyle skiing has brought some increased success. Currently Great Britain is the most successful nation in women's skeleton, having won a medal six times, at least one for each time the event has been held, including a gold medal for Amy Williams in 2010, and the same for Lizzy Yarnold in 2014 and 2018. Great Britain enjoyed a period of significant success between 1976 and 1984 in figure skating, winning golds in three successive games on the rink. Prior to the 2014 Games all Britain's Winter Olympic medals had been won in sports performed on ice. Snowboarder Jenny Jones became the first British athlete to win a medal on snow in the 90 years of the winter games when she won a bronze medal in the women's slopestyle event. At the 2018 Games, Izzy Atkin won Britain's first skiing medal, winning a bronze in the women's ski slopestyle.[nb 1]
The most successful Winter Olympian from Great Britain is Lizzy Yarnold, with two gold medals in the women's skeleton.
Representatives of the devolved Northern Ireland government from a unionist background, however, have objected to the name "Team GB", and have called for it to be renamed as Team UK to make it clearer that Northern Ireland is included on the team.
London is the only city in the UK that has hosted the games, and the only city in the world to have hosted them three times. London also won the right to host the 1944 Summer Olympics. However, the 1944 games were cancelled due to WW2.
In February 2019, the London mayor announced plans to bid for the 2032 or 2036 Olympics, which was backed by UK sport. However, it has been speculated that either Manchester or Birmingham may be in the frame to host, rather than London, at least for the 2040 games. Although it may be possible for London to host the 2032 games, with Manchester or Birmingham hosting the 2040 games.
Great Britain's only stripped medal in Winter Olympic history was an Alpine Skiing bronze at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Alain Baxter tested positive for a banned substance, which was claimed to be as a result of Baxter using an inhaler with different chemicals in the United States.
Jason Kenny (top) shares the most gold medals of any British Olympian on six with Chris Hoy (2nd from top).
Lizzy Yarnold (bottom) is the most successful British Winter Olympian.
According to official data of the International Olympic Committee. This is a list of people who have won three or more Olympic gold medals for Great Britain. Medals won in the 1906 Intercalated Games are not included. It includes top-three placings in 1896 and 1900, before medals were awarded for top-three placings.
In addition to the above, the female British Olympian with the most medals (five) is rower Katherine Grainger who, from 2000-2016 won one gold and four silver medals. Kathleen McKane Godfree also won five medals, but were one gold, two silvers, and two bronzes. Lizzy Yarnold is the most successful British athlete at the Winter Olympics, with two gold medals.
Great Britain and France were the only two nations to compete in the only Olympic cricket match, in 1900. The British team won, making them the only nation to win an Olympic cricket contest and the only Olympic gold medalists in cricket.
Great Britain and Ireland – now represented separately by Team Ireland and Team Great Britain – was one of three nations to play in the inaugural football tournament, winning their only match to take the first Olympic gold medal in football. They competed in the nine Olympics in the table below.
In 1974, the FA abolished the distinction between "amateur" and "professional" footballers in England. This ended the practice of "shamateurism", where players claimed to be amateur but still got irregular payments from their clubs. Also, Great Britain is not a member of FIFA and its athletes participate in international football competitions as members of the national teams of the home nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), none of which have National Olympic Committees. As a result, Great Britain usually does not participate in Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Great Britain was one of four nations to play golf at the first Olympic golf events in 1900. They did not compete in the Olympic golf competition held in 1904. When the sport returned in the 2016 Rio Olympics, after a 112-year absence, Justin Rose won gold.
Great Britain's first gymnastics medal came in 1908 with a silver in the men's individual all-around. Until 2008, Great Britain's last medal for gymnastics was a Bronze in the Women's all-round team event in 1928. At the 2012 Summer Games in London, Great Britain equaled its tally for all previous games combined, winning 4 medals to bring their all-time total to eight.
Great Britain has competed in all judo events held at the Summer Olympics since judo made its full debut as an Olympic sport in 1964. Although Great Britain has won 19 judo medals, none have been gold.
Great Britain's Olympic modern pentathlon debut was in 1912 when the it was first included in the Olympics. Since the women's event was added in 2000, Great Britain has medalled in that event at every Games. The most successful Games was in 2000, when Great Britain won the gold and bronze medals.
Great Britain was one of four nations to compete in the debut of Olympic polo. Three of the five teams had British players, and those three teams took both the top two places and split the third place with the Mexican team.
Great Britain's first shooting medals came when the nation hosted the 1908 Games, at which the British shooters dominated the competitions. There were 215 shooters from 14 nations in the shooting events, including 67 from Great Britain.
Great Britain is the most successful nation in Skeleton winning a medal at every Games in which the sport has been included and has won at least one medal in each of the five contests of Women's skeleton since its introduction with five different athletes. Lizzy Yarnold is the most successful Skeleton rider of all time winning back to back Gold Medals in 2014 and 2018. No other rider has successfully defended a Gold Medal.
Great Britain was the third most successful nation in swimming in 2008, with 2 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes, with Rebecca Adlington winning two of these, making her the most successful female British swimmer in 100 years.
John Pius Boland dominated the 1896 tennis tournaments. Tennis in 1896 was a sport that allowed mixed teams, and both Boland and George S. Robertson joined partners from other nations to win their medals. Britain again dominated in 1900, taking all four gold medals and adding seven others (three as part of mixed teams).
Great Britain have competed in all five triathlon competitions that have taken place since 2000. Their best finish is a 1st and 2nd place in the men's triathlon, and 3rd-place finish in the women's triathlon, in 2016.
Great Britain's Olympic tug of war debut came when the nation hosted the Games in 1908. Great Britain was then one of only two teams to compete in 1912 and also won the last Tug of War competition held in the Olympics in 1920.
Prior to participating, as host nation, in the 2012 volleyball tournaments, Great Britain had never competed in Olympic volleyball with the exception of the women's team participating in the inaugural Beach volleyball tournament in 1996.