Tuesday 6 December 2016

Team GB Olympians power up the Rio medals table

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:11

Team GB's Olympians helped produce its most successful day at the 2016 Rio Games as they surged up the medals table with a flurry of podium places.

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Diving duo Jack Laugher and Chris Mears joined kayaker Joe Clarke in powering Team GB to their second and third gold medals of 2016 after a stunning day in Rio.

There were bronze medals for gymnast Max Whitlock, shooter Steven Scott, Tour de France cycling champion Chris Froome, and judo's Sally Conway.

The haul doubled Team GB's medals total to 12.

Diving pair Mears and Laugher, members of Leeds Dive Club, produced a sparkling display to secure victory in the men's synchronised 3m springboard on day five in Rio.

Mears, 23, from Reading, and Laugher, 21, from Harrogate, previously won World Championships bronze in 2015, Commonwealth gold in 2014 and European gold in May.

Their feat was made more remarkable after Mears battled back from a ruptured spleen suffered as a teenager which left him on life support with just a one in 20 chance of survival.

Mears said: "We've been looking pretty damn good in training. As you can see the conditions are a big thing here.

"One minute you can be diving in sunshine, then it's cloudy, then it's raining and it's really windy. So there are a lot of factors that can throw people off.

"But we just stayed in our zone. We didn't know how many points we needed because we weren't concentrating on that.

"All I concentrated on was landing on my head on my dive and I did that. And so did Jack so we came out on top."

Laugher said: "So we took on the English weather with the wind and the rain and the cloudiness but we embraced it.

"We did it well today although it can be better. But I've got a gold medal so I don't care.

"The dream's happened and it's paid off and we're ecstatic with how we've done."

Canoeist Clarke, from Stafford, had earlier taken Great Britain's second gold medal of Rio 2016 by triumphing in the men's K1 slalom final.

The 24-year-old said he was stunned by his success and hailed it as a "dream come true".

He said: "I went out on that final run, laid it all on the line, put my all out there and that was enough to come away with the Olympic gold medal.

"It is absolutely fantastic and a dream come true. So much hard work has gone into this and the support from the National Lottery and UK Sport has been unbelievable.

"When I crossed the line and knew I had a bronze I was absolutely ecstatic. It got even better when that upgraded to a silver and then upgraded to a gold.

"Joe Clarke, Olympic champion. Joe Clarke, Olympic champion! It was what I went to bed dreaming about last night and what I've dreamed of for so many years.

"To wake up this morning thinking this is actually the finals of the Olympics and I could come away being the Olympic champion is just like wow.

"For sure I've had some luck and you need a bit of luck in this sport to excel and that has come today. I don't know what I did to deserve that but I obviously did something right along the way."

Clarke's win came shortly after Scott won a bronze medal in the men's double trap shooting after beating his team-mate and friend Tim Kneale in a head-to-head contest.

He said: "It's a very emotional time for me. There is a little part of me that wanted him to win as well because we worked so hard together."

Just a couple of hours previously, cyclist Froome hailed his "amazing summer" as he clinched an Olympic bronze medal less than three weeks after winning the Tour de France.

His third place position in the time trial has been described as a "fantastic achievement" and testament to his commitment to the sport.

Froome, 31, had been bidding to emulate Sir Bradley Wiggins by winning the Tour and Olympic gold in the same year, after taking time trial bronze behind his compatriot four years ago.

The bronze medal winner said: " Winning the Tour was a big target for me and I came here to try and back it up. Just to be at the Olympics is really special, but to come away with another medal is even more special.''

Adding to the Team GB medal haul was Conway, who won a bronze medal in the women's -70kg judo category.

The 29-year-old from Edinburgh beat Bernadette Graf of Austria in a tense contest, securing victory with a single throw midway through.

Conway, who was knocked out at the last-16 stage in the same category at London 2012, raised her hands above her head in delight at the end.

Her father, Mark Conway, said her victory was made even sweeter after being set back by a string of injuries at other major tournaments.

He said: "She's won so many things but she's not got the title and recognition, and this gives her the title that people would look at that defines her career."

Press Association

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