Tearful duo Jack Laugher and Chris Mears won Team GB’s first ever Olympic diving gold medal in the men’s synchronised 3m springboard, hours after Joe Clarke’s kayak triumph handed the nation its second top prize of this Olympics.
Great Britain’s haul was swelled by a flurry of bronze gongs in gymnastics, cycling, shooting and judo as Great Britain moved ahead of their tally of medals snared by the same stage of London 2012.
Laugher and Mears added to their Commonwealth and European crowns after ending China’s hopes of a clean sweep of Rio diving titles, as they chalked up a total of 454.32.
Mears, who was given only a five per cent chance of surviving having contracted the life-threatening Epstein Barr virus in 2009, said: “After going through all that, just making the 2012 Olympics in London was enough for me.
“But we were in a different position at this Games. We knew we could get medals but to actually win them is incredible.”
British No1 Clarke, meanwhile, was left pinching himself after a prodigious final run saw the 23-year-old win gold in the men’s K1 canoe slalom with a time of 88.53 seconds.
“When I woke up I struggled to have breakfast I was so nervous with all the emotions,” said Clarke, who qualified third fastest for the final. “I thought if it goes to plan I could come away with a medal but to be Olympic champion is something you dream about.”
Gymnast Max Whitlock ended a 108-year wait for a British Olympic medal in the men’s all-around. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura retained his Olympic crown, while Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine took silver.
Cyclist Chris Froome toasted a glorious summer after adding Olympic bronze in the men’s individual time trial to the Tour de France crown, the third of his career, he secured last month.
Froome, who won bronze at London 2012 in the same discipline, finished over a minute behind Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara as Holland’s Tom Dumoulin took silver. Welshman Geraint Thomas finished ninth.
“Winning the Tour was a big target for me and I came here to try and back it up,” said Froome. “Just to be at the Olympics is really special, but to come away with another medal is even more special.”
Whitlock and Froome were by no means alone in their bronze medal-winning heroics as shooter Steven Scott defeated team-mate Tim Kneale to take his place on the podium following a third-place finish in the men’s double trap event.
Judoka Sally Conway then defeated Austria’s Bernadette Graf in the -70kg category to take bronze after earlier beating world champion Gevrise Emane.