Team GB chiefs toasted a historic achievement last night after boxer Joe Joyce’s silver medal brought the curtain down on their best ever Olympic Games on foreign soil.
Great Britain’s tally of 27 golds in Rio saw them finish second in the medal table, behind only the United States and ahead of traditional powerhouse China for the first time.
They also became the first nation to win more medals overall than they did when hosting the previous Olympics, with their tally of 67 exceeding the 65 they amassed at London 2012.
Not since 1908, when the Games were held in London for the first time, has Britain been so prolific on the podium.
Team GB chef de mission Mark England called the medal haul “quite simply one of the finest British sporting achievements to date”.
He added: “To follow on from London 2012 and the home comforts that came with hosting a Games and out-perform ourselves here is a piece of history that the nation can be hugely proud of.”
British Olympic Association chief executive Bill Sweeney said it had been no overnight success, but rather an improvement made possible by the use of National Lottery funding since 1997.
“This is 20 years in the making and we’ve now enjoyed five successive Games of medal growth,” he said. “No one has come close to that and it’s an unbelievable achievement.”
UK Sport performance director Simon Timson attributed the medal glut to an army of “exceptional” backroom staff. “I am now in no doubt that we have the best high performance system in the world,” he said.
Joyce’s silver was Britain’s only medal of the final day of the Rio Games, which officially concluded last night with a closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Mo Farah had claimed Team GB’s final gold – and his second of the Games – by successfully defending his 5,000m title, as he did his 10,000m crown earlier in the competition.
Joyce, 30, lost a split decision to French rival Tony Yoka. The fine art graduate looked the busier fighter but failed to follow Anthony Joshua in winning the super-heavyweight gold.
“I thought I did enough to win the gold medal,” said Joyce. “I thought I took it to him and I thought I would be coming back over the moon. We have beaten our target, we have beaten London, so in that respect it has been a great Games.”