Britain's Greatest Olympians

Posted by on Saturday, March 31, 2012 Under: Olympics

Britain's Greatest Olympians

The word ‘legend’ get bandied about far too much within popular culture these days, don’t get me wrong I’m as guilty as any other twenty-something for using the term as loosely as possible, but where do you draw the line between a great Olympian and a legendary one?

If you live in the UK over the coming months you won’t be able to move without hearing about the London Olympics. We’re about to be bombarded with cringe worthy commercials and billboards designed to inspire the nation with god-like images of future stars and on-looking ghosts of Britain’s Olympic past. Talk about pressure, the person I feel sorry for is Jessica Ennis, we’ve pretty much had her down as the London golden girl since the games were announced, and practically hung the gold medal around her neck, yet this is her first Olympic Games! It’s not her fault of course, that’s the nature of track and field, it’s what makes the highlights reel at the end of the games.

I digress. What makes a legendary Olympian? For me it’s longevity and there’s only one man who epitomises the word, Sir Steve Redgrave. Redgrave competed in 5 Olympics from 1984-2000 and in each one he won a gold medal, staggering! Of course 3 of those gold medals were won with Sir Matthew Pinsent, a man who collected 4 gold medals and must also go down as legend status.
There are two other current British Olympians who have already made it into the ‘great’ category, and their performances this summer could excel them into the realms of Redgrave and Pinsent status. They are Chris Hoy and Ben Ainslie.
Chris Hoy is quite simply a master of his art, he reminds me of a boxer but without the showmanship and arrogance, he knows he’s one of the greatest ever cyclists but goes about his business in a professional and reliable manner delivering the goods every time. That’s why he’s won 4 Olympic gold medals, (3 of those in Beijing in 2008) and part of the reason why Britain has a world class cycling team, setting the bar and paving the way for future greats. For me, any medal in London this year will place him into legend status.

Ben Ainslie is a man who rarely gets mentioned as an Olympic great, but the British sailor will be competing in his 5th Olympic games this year. I’m no sailing expert, but watching him in action is like watching a painter, effortlessly brushing and weaving through a canvas with complete nonchalance yet precision to their craft. He’s won 1 silver and 3 gold medals since making his debut in Atlanta 1996, and the only British competitor at London 2012 who’s going for his 4th consecutive gold medal in as many games. Like Hoy, London could propel him into another stratosphere of British Olympians.

In : Olympics 

Tags: britain's greatest olympians  chris hoy  ben ainslie  london 2012 
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