After the record-breaking London Games, not even the most ardent supporter dared hope our Olympians and Paralympians could match the achievements of 2012.
But in the heat of Rio, we saw records smashed, new heroes created and new standards set again and again.
Swimmer Adam Peaty lit the touchpaper, taking Team GB’s first gold medal in the men’s 100m breaststroke. From then on, historic moments came thick and fast.
Laura Trott became Britain’s greatest female Olympian with two golds in cycling to add to her two wins at London 2012.
Jason Kenny took three golds, bringing his overall tally to six.
Mo Farah won gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres while brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee were first and second in the triathlon, lying arm-in-arm after the finish.
The women’s hockey team secured a first Olympic gold with a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over the Netherlands. Max Whitlock became Britain’s first Olympic gymnastics champion – then grabbed a second gold less than two hours later.
The final table, with Team GB second, above China, with 67 medals, including 27 golds, two more than in London, tells only half the story.
For every medal there was an inspirational story of triumph over adversity, or a dedicated grassroots coach, or parents who made a sacrifice to support their child’s sporting dream.
Our Paralympians picked up the baton as they finished with 147 medals – 27 more than in London, and way above their target of 121 and 64 golds – double the amount won in London.
Dame Sarah Storey’s three Rio golds made her Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian, with a total of 14 golds.
Kadeena Cox took gold in athletics and cycling, the first Briton to triumph in two different sports at the Games since 1988.
After Rio, Britain could be proud of the greatest combined team performance in our sporting history.
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It was a fantastic year for the Olympic and Paralympic team and they thoroughly deserve this Special Recognition award. They’ve been outstanding. To come second in the medal table is a fantastic achievementPride of Britain judges