With so many outstanding and inspirational performances from Team GB, it is no surprise that The Mixed Zone’s August nominations for the Action Women of the Year award should all have taken place in Rio. Laura Winter has been spoilt for choice and the hard part has been whittling the list down to just five. However, to acknowledge Team GB’s most successful Olympics, we also list below everyone single medal won by our sportswomen at the Games
For successfully defending their Olympic title in the women’s pair at the Lagoa Stadium, winning one of Team GB’s 27 gold medals and proving they are truly peerless in this event. Despite a late surge from New Zealand, Glover and Stanning crossed the line first and extended their record to 39 consecutive wins.
And despite the pressure of the home Games in London where they first won an Olympic title, Stanning and Glover both admitted this title carried a greater weight. Army major Stanning, who spent a year of the last Olympic cycle in Afghanistan, said: “I’ve been so emotional and that’s not me at all. This means so much more, we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves.”
For Glover, as soon as she crossed the line, she felt like she earned the right to call herself a double Olympic champion. “Defending that title is something really, really special. The first time it was all new to us, this time round we crossed the line and we were Olympic champions, rather than realising it six months later. We both felt it more this time.”
For winning a silver medal in the women’s double sculls with Vicky Thornley to become our most decorated female Olympian of all time with four silvers and a gold medal from five Games.
At one point the silver medal seemed impossible. Just two months before they raced down the track at Lagoa, leading for much of the race, the duo were not even selected in a boat for Rio 2016. Grainger admits she has had to overcome “the darkest days of her career” just to be in with a chance of competing in the Games again.
The 40 year old said: “That is a medal that not many people would have put money on. If I am honest I couldn’t see where this could happen, so have a big medal hanging around our necks has made it all worthwhile. I remember at the start of this campaign feeling that if I could come out with a medal of any kind it would probably be my greatest achievement just because of where it has come from.”
For becoming our most successful female Olympian of all time: she won two gold medals in Rio to add to the two golds she won in London. The first came in the team pursuit, in which the British quartet broke the world record in each round of racing. The second came in the omnium, which she dominated from start to finish, never finishing outside the top two in the six races that comprise the event. No one else could come close to her.
Trott said: “To do what I did in London and to come here and do it again, honestly I cannot believe it. When you see people who I idolise backing up in successive Olympics, like Sir Chris Hoy and my fiance Jason [Kenny], I wondered how on earth these people do it. So for me to be able to come here and do it just makes me feel so proud.
“I know the next three years are going to be just as hard as after London. It’s a lot of hard work and I think people often forget that because Great Britain win a load of gold medals they think, ‘Oh, it’s easy’. It’s not easy. It’s so hard and so stressful, and right now the thought of doing it all again freaks the hell out of me. But it’s something that I would like to take on, the idea of winning six gold medals. But I’m just going to enjoy the moment for now.”
GB HOCKEY TEAM
For beating the Dutch on penalties to become the first British women’s hockey team to win an Olympic title. It was the perfect swansong for captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, and wife Helen, who became the first married couple to win Olympic gold together since Cyril and Dorothy Wright in the sailing in 1920.
It had been a turbulent four years for GB since winning bronze at London 2012. They produced an abject performance at the World Cup, but the bulk of the team, performing as England, won the EuroHockey title in 2015 (once again beating the Netherlands on penalties thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Maddie Hinch).
Kate Richardson-Walsh said: “To win an Olympic medal is special. To win an Olympic medal with your wife there next to you, taking a penalty in the pressure moments, is so special. We will cherish this for the rest of our lives.”
For winning Olympic bronze on the floor in the gymnastics at the tender age of 16. And all in the same summer that she sat her GCSEs. She followed in the footsteps of Beth Tweddle by winning the third individual Olympic medal for Team GB, who enjoyed their most successful gymnastics competition in Rio.
“It has been incredible, said Tinkler. “I can’t believe it. I’m in total shock. I wasn’t thinking about winning a medal. My coaches said I had nothing to lose and just to go out and enjoy it. I could hear a lot of cheers from the crowd and that helped me a lot. Max Whitlock and Louis Smith have inspired me so much over the years, so to have a medal like them is incredible.”
It was a near-impossible task to select just five superhuman performances in a month where Team GB smashed their Olympic medal target and had their most successful away Games. These five achievements are just the tip of the iceberg. Our final nomination, the talented teen Tinkler, represents the next generation of sportswomen, who have been swept along by the brilliance, guts, courage, effort, panache, blood, sweat and tears of a memorable Olympic Games.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Winter is a sports journalist, presenter and event host. She worked in sports communications for the International Rowing Federation for two years, before working and training as a journalist in Gloucestershire, covering a variety of sports including rugby, boxing, football, and triathlon. She then turned freelance at the end of 2014 and is part of the team who founded Voxwomen, a women’s cycling show that seeks to give the female elite peloton the coverage they deserve. Laura’s latest articles.