By Harvey Palmer | Sport Editor
With the Tokyo Olympics now in full swing, Tuesday 27th – Thursday 29th July saw an opportunity for Team GB to continue to deliver the high standard of performance that had already been on display, with more medals up for grabs and more history to be written.
Day Four (Tuesday 27th July) – A day of comebacks
Going into Day Four of the Tokyo Olympics (27th July), spirits for Team GB were at an all-time high, following the extraordinary events that occurred on ‘Magic Monday’.
The day marked the chance for more impressive performances from established names such as Charlotte Dujardin, who went into the day knowing that a medal in the team equestrian dressage would see her join rower Dame Katherine Grainger and tennis player Kathleen McKane Godfree as Britain’s most decorated female Olympians. Alongside veteran Carl Hester and 25-year-old Charlotte Fry, Dujardin and the team found themselves third, behind a mightily impressive German side who claimed first place, and a USA team who only marginally beat the Brits to second. This also meant that Dujardin had the opportunity the following day to go one better and be the outright most decorated female British Olympian, when she would compete in the individual event.
History was also to be made in the pool on Tuesday, with GB swimmers Tom Dean and Duncan Scott coming from behind to placing in gold and silver medal positions in the men’s 200m freestyle. It was as a result of this spectacular performance from the two Brits that, for the first time since 1912, two British swimmers achieved individual gold medals, and also the first time since 1908 that two GB swimmers placed first and second in the same race. Tom Dean revealed afterwards to reporters that he “contracted COVID-19 twice in the last 12 months”, and as such had “six or seven weeks out” of his preparations for the Olympics.
Elsewhere, in the women’s triathlon, another remarkable comeback saw Georgia Taylor-Brown reach second on the podium, having fought back from a flat tyre in the cycle leg to secure the silver medal.
In women’s rhythmic gymnastics, GB’s young team of Olympic debutants put in a stellar performance to go from seventh-placed at the halfway stage to achieve the first GB women’s team gymnastics medal since 1928.
Rounding off the medals for day four was Taekwondo star and fan favourite Bianca Walkden. Walkden faced an agonising end to her semi-final fight against South Korea’s Lee Da-bin, losing in the very last second. Walkden, however, showed a great deal of mental and physical resilience to power through her bronze medal match and seal a podium place, albeit not the position she would have liked.
Day Five (Wednesday 28th July)
Perhaps the biggest moment on Day Five of the Tokyo Olympics came in the dressage, with Charlotte Dujardin placing third and writing her name in British history as Team GB’s most decorated female Olympian of all time. Dujardin, expectedly, was overjoyed at the achievement, saying to reporters “It might be bronze but, to me, it’s like a gold medal and more.”
History was once again being made in the pool, with Team GB’s men’s 4×200 freestyle relay team claiming another swimming gold medal for the nation, with Tom Dean and Duncan Scott, who had placed first and second in the individual event before, inspiring the team to victory. It was a particularly incredible moment for Tom Dean, whose two gold medals saw him become the first British male swimmer to win two golds at the same Olympics in 113 years, since Henry Taylor won three golds in 1908.
There was also history of an unfamiliar kind being made in open water as Team GB claimed a first ever men’s quadruple sculls Olympic medal at the Sea Forest Waterway. The team of Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont claimed a silver medal in a highly tense race, coming in at a time of 5:33.75.
It was also a positive day for GB’s sailors, particularly windsurfer Emma Wilson who is top of her event’s standings after 9 races from 12, and also reigning men’s Finn champion Giles Scott who claimed victories in his third and fourth races to bring himself up to 4th in the rankings, having disappointed in the two prior races.
Disappointment, however, came in the men’s rugby sevens, as Team GB lost their bronze medal match against Argentina 12-17, marking a slight decline from Rio when they placed second to Fiji, who claimed gold in this edition of the Olympics as well.
Any dreams of securing a tennis medal at the Tokyo Olympics for Team GB also ended, with Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury knocked out of the men’s doubles quarter-final by Croatia’s pair, and Liam Broady losing his third-round singles match to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Day Six (Thursday 29th July)
The positive start to the Tokyo Olympics shown by Team GB carried through to day six, as two more medals were won, and progress continued to be made elsewhere.
GB’s first medal of the day was won by trap shooter Matthew Coward-Holley, in a final which saw gold and silver decided in a dramatic shoot-off between Jiri Liptak and David Kostelecky, both from the city of Brno in the Czech Republic, in which Liptak came out on top.
The other medal of the day came in the women’s C1 canoe slalom, a newly added event for women at the Olympics, in which Mallory Franklin put in a mightily impressive performance to place second behind Australian world number one Jess Fox.
It was another great day for British sailing, with seven sailing crews currently placed in medal positions halfway through the regatta, including windsurfer Emma Wilson. The 22-year-old has guaranteed a bronze medal at the very least and is still a favourite for top spot.
It was a somewhat disappointing day for rowing veteran and star Helen Glover and her partner Polly Swann, who finished fourth in the women’s pair event.
Glover originally didn’t believe that she would return after the 2016 games in Rio, and suggested in an interview with the BBC that it is almost certain that she will be taking part in 2024 in Paris, while Swann says she will return to working in the NHS next week to decide on her future.
In swimming, Adam Peaty helped the GB 4×100 mixed medley team, consisting of male and female competitors, to victory in their heat, and Duncan Scott qualified in second for the 200m individual medley final.
Finally, in hockey, Team GB’s men secured a place in the quarter-finals in a 2-2 draw against the Netherlands, while the women lost 1-0 to the 2016 runners-up.