17/08/2016 23:02 BST | Updated 17/08/2016 23:05 BST

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

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


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.

  • 1Women's team pursuit, gold (cycling)
    Women's team pursuit, gold (cycling)
    Eric Gaillard / Reuters
    Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald.
  • 2Joe Clarke, gold (K1, kayak)
    Joe Clarke,  gold (K1, kayak)
    Martin Rickett/PA Wire
  • 3Jason Kenny, gold (keirin, cycling)
    Jason Kenny, gold (keirin, cycling)
    David Davies/PA Wire
  • 4Laura Trott, gold (omnium, cycling)
    Laura Trott, gold (omnium, cycling)
  • 5Charlotte Dujardin, gold (dressage, equastrian)
    Charlotte Dujardin, gold (dressage, equastrian)
    John Locher/AP
  • 6Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, gold (women’s coxless pair, rowing)
    Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, gold (women’s coxless pair, rowing)
    Luca Bruno/AP
  • 7Jason Kenny, gold (individual sprint, cycling)
    Jason Kenny, gold (individual sprint, cycling)
    Paul Hanna / Reuters
  • 8Men’s coxless fours, gold (rowing)
    Men’s coxless fours, gold (rowing)
    DAMIEN MEYER via Getty Images
    Constantine Louloudis, George Nash, Mohamed Sbihi and Alex Gregory. 
  • 9Men's team sprint, gold (cycling)
    Men's team sprint, gold (cycling)
    Patrick Semansky/AP
    Callum Skinner, Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes.
  • 10Men’s eight, gold (rowing)
    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.
  • 11Men’s team pursuit, gold (cycling)
    Men’s team pursuit, gold (cycling)
    Eric Gaillard / Reuters
    Owain Doull, Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy and Steven Burke.
  • 12Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley, silver (women’s double sculls, rowing)
    Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley, silver (women’s double sculls, rowing)
    Martin Rickett/PA Wire
  • 13David Florence and Richard Hounslow, silver (C2, canoeing)
    David Florence and Richard Hounslow, silver (C2, canoeing)
  • 14Callum Skinner, silver (individual sprint, cycling)
    Callum Skinner, silver (individual sprint, cycling)
    Victor R. Caivano/AP
  • 15Mark Cavendish, silver (omnium, cycling)
    Mark Cavendish, silver (omnium, cycling)
    Paul Hanna / Reuters
  • 16Team dressage, silver (equestrian)
    Team dressage, silver (equestrian)
  • 17Becky James, silver (keirin, cycling)
    Becky James, silver (keirin, cycling)
    David Davies/PA Wire
  • 18Women’s eight, silver (rowing)
    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.
  • 19Becky James, silver (sprint, cycling)
    Becky James, silver (sprint, cycling)
    Victor R. Caivano/AP
  • 20Katy Marchant, bronze (sprint, cycling)
    Katy Marchant, bronze (sprint, cycling)
    Eric Gaillard / Reuters
  • 21Chris Froome, bronze (road race, cycling)
    Chris Froome, bronze (road race, cycling)
    Eric Gaillard / Reuters