• Matt Johns

Tokyo 2020: Reflecting on Team GB’s Games

Updated: Aug 15

In an Olympics like no other we were unsure as of what to expect, with many thinking that the games would have something missing with no spectators being present.

However, the Japanese capital did not disappoint,with the magical games forcing the athletes to create their own atmosphere and support their rival competitors.

Despite the obvious coronavirus implications, the event brought many great sporting moments. World records were broken, the Italian’s had surprise success in the athletics and a well overdue spotlight was shone on athlete’s mental health.

From a Team GB perspective the games were a success too, with Tokyo resulting in the second-most successful overseas games, behind Rio in 2016.

The 65 medals achieved across 18 sports equalled the tally achieved at the home games in London, nine years ago.

Some of Team GB’s traditionally more lucrative sports in terms of medals seemed to be having a transitional period, with the rowing team failing to pick up a gold medal for the first time since the 1980 games in Moscow.

The sport received the most funding, getting £24.6million over the Tokyo Olympic cycle, and after such a poor showing is understandably subject to an inquest.

Athletics has also been a more successful sport for Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the years. But, with the stars of ‘Super Saturday’ either retired or not being selected, the pressure of gold rested on the shoulders of Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

However, both were struggling with injuries and therefore were unable to complete their individual events. Asher-Smith did still manage to compete in the 4x100 metre relay and win a bronze medal, behind the teams of Jamaica and USA, respectively.

With these disappointments it was the turn of other sports to step up, and the cyclists and swimmers certainly did that.

The ever-reliant Kenny partnership came up with the goods again, with both Jason and Laura picking up a gold and silver each, subsequently becoming the most successful male and female British Olympians.

Jason picked up gold on the final day of the games in the keirin in a sensational ride, solidifying his stance as the greatest British Olympian of all time. This followed a silver in the team sprint earlier in the week, alongside Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens.

Laura Kenny claimed her gold in the inaugural Olympic female madison, as the event made its return to the games for the first time since Beijing in 2008. Kenny alongside Katie Archibald were dominant from the off and left it with no question that their names would be etched into history.

This was both Kenny and Archibald’s second medal of the games, after a second placed finish in the team pursuit, in company with Josie Knight and NeahEvans.

It wasn’t just on the track where the cyclists excelled, as Team GB picked up medals in both BMX and mountain biking.

Both Bethany Shriever and Charlotte Worthington won gold in their BMX events, in both the race and freestyle respectively.

What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that both had to crowdfund their success after UK sport said that they would only fund male riders,based on ‘results’.

It was a historic games for the British swimmers, who won a record breaking eight medals, four being gold.

Normal procession resumed for Adam Peaty, who reclaimed his 100m breaststroke title in dominant fashion. The 26-year-old from Uttoxeter also claimed gold in the first Olympic mixed medley relay, and capped off his Tokyo experience by receiving a silver medal in the men’s medley relay.

Tom Dean and Duncan Scott became the first British duo to share an Olympic swimming podium since 1908. Dean won gold in the 200m freestyle, just pipping out Scott by 0.04 seconds.

Despite not claiming gold there Scott had an outstanding Olympics, becoming the first Brit to win four medals at a single games. The swimmer from Glasgow won one gold and three silvers, to add to his two silvers from Rio five years ago.

It was fourth time lucky for Tom Daley, as the diver won his first Olympic diving gold in his fourth games alongside Olympic debutant Matty Lee, in the synchronised 10 metre platform event.

Daley has lived his life in front of the world, due to his euphoric rise at such a young age and has faced many ups and downs. After finally achieving his dream, the 27-year-old had an understandable outpour of emotion on top of the podium.

He wasn’t finished there either, claiming a bronze in the individual event and receiving his fourth Olympic medal. The Plymouth born knitting sensation refused to rule out a fifth Olympic games, suggesting there is a possibility of him being in Paris in three years’ time.

The British boxers had a ground-breaking games too, tallying up their most successful games in terms of medals, winning two of each colour. Galal Yafai and Lauren Price were the two that stood on top of the podium.

Price is the second British woman to win a boxing gold after Nicola Adams, adding to her already impressive football and kickboxing career.

In gymnastics, Max Whitlock retained his pommel horse title become Olympic Champion for a third time, with a near flawless performance edging out Lee Chih-kai from Chinese Taipei.

Whitlock wasn’t the only success in the Ariake gymnastics centre, with the Team GB women claiming a bronze in the team all-around event. The team that featured Alice Kinsella, Amelie Morgan and the 16-year-old Gadirova twins, Jennifer and Jessica claimed Britain’s first medal in the event since 1928.

Team GB flag bearer Hannah Mills retained her Olympic sailing title in the Women’s 470 event, this time alongside Eilidh McIntyre as one of the three gold medals won by Great Britain to put them on top of the sailing medal table.

It was double gold in the modern pentathlon as Joe Choong and Kate French took top spot in the men and women events, respectively. Choong claimed the first medal of any colour for a British man in the modern pentathlon at the Olympics.

There were many new and exciting sports and events in the Tokyo games, and with skateboarding making its Olympic debut, Sky Brown became Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist at the age of just 13.

The triathlon mixed relay was one of the most exciting new events to take place, and it was great news from a British perspective.

The quartet of Jess Learmonth, Jonathan Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee came home on top, after what was an enthralling battle with both the USA and France.

This medal completes the full set for Brownlee, at what looks set to be his last games.

Team Gb Medallists


• Tom Pidcock - Men’s Cross-Country Cycling

• Tom Daley and Matty Lee - Men’s synchronised 10 metre platform Diving

• Adam Peaty - Men’s 100m Breaststroke

• Tom Dean - Men’s 200m Freestyle

• Tom Dean, James Guy, Matt Richards, Duncan Scott & Callum Jarvis – Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay

• Bethany Shriever - Women’s BMX Racing

• Jess Learmonth, Jonathan Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown - Triathlon Mixed Relay

• Kathleen Dawson, James Guy, Adam Peaty, Anna Hopkin & Freya Anderson – Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay

• Charlotte Worthington – Women’s BMX Freestyle

• Max Whitlock – Gymnastics Men’s Pommel Horse

• Laura Collett, Tom McEwen, Oliver Townend –Equestrian Team Eventing

• Stuart Bithell & Dylan Fletcher – Sailing (49er)

• Giles Scott – Sailing (Finn)

• Hannah Mills & Eilidh McIntyre – Sailing (Women’s 470)

• Ben Maher – Equestrian Individual Jumping

• Matthew Walls – Men’s Omnium Cycling

• Katie Archibald & Laura Kenny – Women’s Madison Cycling

• Kate French – Women’s Modern Pentathlon

• Galal Yafai – Men’s Flyweight Boxing

• Joe Choong – Men’s Modern Pentathlon

• Jason Kenny – Men’s Keirin Cycling

• Lauren Price – Women’s Middleweight Boxing


• Bradly Sinden – Men’s -68kg Taekwondo

• Lauren Williams – Women’s -67kg Taekwondo

• Alex Yee – Men’s Individual Triathlon

• Duncan Scott – Men’s 200m Freestyle

• Georgia Taylor-Brown – Women’s Individual Triathlon

• Tom Barras, Jack Beaumont, Angus Groom & Harry Leask – Men’s Rowing Quadruple Sculls

• Mallory Franklin – Women’s Canoeing (C-1)

• Duncan Scott – Men’s 200m Individual Medley

• Kye Whyte – Men’s BMX Racing

• Luke Greenbank, James Guy, Duncan Scott, Adam Peaty & James Wilby – Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay

• Tom McEwan – Equestrian Individual Eventing

• Emily Campbell – Women’s Weightlifting (+87kg)

• John Gimson & Anna Burnet – Sailing (Mixed Nacra 17)

• Katie Archibald, Neah Evans, Laura Kenny, Josie Knight & Elinor Barker – Women’s Team Pursuit Cycling

• Jack Carlin, Jason Kenny & Ryan Owens – Men’s Team Sprint Cycling

• Pat McCormack – Men’s Welterweight Boxing

• Keely Hodgkinson – Athletics Women’s 800m

• Benjamin Whittaker – Men’s Light Heavyweight Boxing

• Laura Muir – Athletics Women’s 1500m

• Chinjindu Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty &Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – Athletics Men’s 4x100m Relay *

• Ethan Hayter & Matthew Walls – Men’s Madison Cycling

*Medal subject to inquiry after Chinjindu Ujah was provisionally suspended as a result of an anti-doping violation.


• Chelsie Giles – Women’s 52kg Judo

• Bianca Walkden – Women’s +67kg Taekwondo

• Jennifer Gadirova, Jessica Gadirova, Alice Kinsella & Amelie Morgan – Women’s Gymnastics Team All-Around

• Charlotte Dujardin, Charlotte Fry & Carl Hester –Equestrian Team Dressage

• Charlotte Dujardin – Equestrian Individual Dressage

• Matthew Coward-Holley – Men’s Trap Shooting

• Josh Bugajski, Jacob Dawson, Charles Elwes, Thomas Ford, Thomas George, James Rudkin, Moe Sbihi, Oliver Wynne-Griffith & Henry Fieldman (cox) – Men’s Rowing Eight

• Luke Greenbank – Men’s 200m Backstroke

• Bryony Page – Women’s Trampoline

• Emma Wilson – Sailing (RS:X)

• Karriss Artingstall – Women’s Featherweight Boxing

• Declan Brooks – Men’s BMX Freestyle

• Jack Laugher – Men’s 3m Springboard Diving

• Sky Brown – Women’s Park Skateboarding

• Frazer Clark – Men’s Super Heavyweight Boxing

• Liam Heath – Men’s Canoeing (K1 200m)

• Holly Bradshaw – Women’s Pole Vault

• Team GB Field Hockey Team – Women’s Field Hockey

• Jack Carlin – Men’s Individual Sprint Cycling

• Asha Philip, Imani Lansiquot, Dina Asher-Smith & Daryll Neita – Athletics Women’s 4x100m Relay

• Tom Daley – Men’s 10m Platform Diving

• Josh Kerr – Athletics Men’s 1500m

Now that the games have come to a close, all we can do is reflect on the 32nd Olympiad and look forward to Paris.

The next games are only in three years’ time, due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and athletes from across the globe are sure to set the world alight once more. We will even see the debut introduction of breakdancing, which has received very mixed reviews, for obvious reasons.

But before then, we stick in Tokyo for the Paralympic games beginning on Tuesday 24th August.

The inspiring disabled athletes will take the stage, showcasing their powerful journeys right to the top of world sport.