Great Britain Is The Rio Olympic Champion Of 'Sitting Down Sports'

21 medals in cycling, rowing, watersports and equestrian smashes the US.

Article originally published 17/08/2016: due to a technical issue this article may have resurfaced for some readers, and the original publish date may not have been visible.

Everyone now knows that Great Britain is having one of its greatest ever Olympics.

With 50 medals in the bag and five days to go, Rio is already Team GB’s best ‘away’ Games and the all-time high achieved in London is being hunted down.

It puts Britain in a dizzying second in the medal table, sandwiched between Olympic super-powers China in third and the US, who are top dogs as always.

But there is one sub-set of sports where Britain is completely dominant: ‘sitting down sports’ - cycling, rowing, watersports and equestrian.*

Since day five when Chris Froome won bronze in the road cycling time trial, Team GB has racked up triumph after triumph in events involving a seat or saddle, which may reflect the innate British fondness for a nice long sit-down.

By day 11, Team GB had 21 medals in ‘sit-downers’. That is made up of 11 golds, 8 silvers and 2 bronzes.

It means, if GB only took part in these lower-centre-of-gravity pursuits it would be equal fifth in the medals table based on gold medals, and tenth if all medals were taken into consideration.

More importantly, Team GB would smash the US in a sit down head-to-head. The Olympic giants have a measly eight medals overall in rowing, cycling and equestrian, comprising just two golds, four silvers and two bronzes.

Since the disaster of Atlanta in 1996, where the country finished 36th overall and won just one gold (naturally that was supplied by rowing legends Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave), Britain’s prowess in rowing and cycling in particular has grown markedly.

Perhaps what is most remarkable in Rio is how Britain now seems to have talent in upright competition too. For now, though, let’s celebrate these giants.

*Sailing excluded as the seated-standing ratio is unclear. If so, that’s two more medals.

Women's team pursuit, gold (cycling)
Eric Gaillard / Reuters
Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald.
Joe Clarke, gold (K1, kayak)
Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Jason Kenny, gold (keirin, cycling)
David Davies/PA Wire
Laura Trott, gold (omnium, cycling)
Charlotte Dujardin, gold (dressage, equastrian)
John Locher/AP
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, gold (women’s coxless pair, rowing)
Luca Bruno/AP
Jason Kenny, gold (individual sprint, cycling)
Paul Hanna / Reuters
Men’s coxless fours, gold (rowing)
DAMIEN MEYER via Getty Images
Constantine Louloudis, George Nash, Mohamed Sbihi and Alex Gregory.
Men's team sprint, gold (cycling)
Patrick Semansky/AP
Callum Skinner, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes.
Men’s eight, gold (rowing)
Luca Bruno/AP
Scott Durant, Tom Ransley, Andrew T. Hodge, Matt Gotrell, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Matt Langridge, William Satch and Phelan Hill.
Men’s team pursuit, gold (cycling)
Eric Gaillard / Reuters
Owain Doull, Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy and Steven Burke.
Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley, silver (women’s double sculls, rowing)
Martin Rickett/PA Wire
David Florence and Richard Hounslow, silver (C2, canoeing)
Callum Skinner, silver (individual sprint, cycling)
Victor R. Caivano/AP
Mark Cavendish, silver (omnium, cycling)
Paul Hanna / Reuters
Team dressage, silver (equestrian)
Becky James, silver (keirin, cycling)
David Davies/PA Wire
Women’s eight, silver (rowing)
Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Katie Greves, Melanie Wilson, Frances Houghton, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett, Zoe Lee, and Zoe De Toledo.
Becky James, silver (sprint, cycling)
Victor R. Caivano/AP
Katy Marchant, bronze (sprint, cycling)
Eric Gaillard / Reuters
Chris Froome, bronze (road race, cycling)
Eric Gaillard / Reuters