Olympics 2012: British Team Surpasses Beijing Medal Count With 20th Gold

10:50 AM PST 08/07/2012 by Stuart Kemp
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UPDATED: The British media sets itself to go into overdrive as the team surpasses 2008's top medal tally.

LONDON – The British media's Olympic gold fever began to hit fever pitch Tuesday as Team Great Britain collected its 20th gold medal, surpassing Beijing 2008 for the team's best tally in more than a century.

And it was in the equestrian event, the dressage where horse and rider obtain marks for poise, clarity of movement and control, that the gold came, an event the British have not won gold for ever. The dressage team of Laura Bechtolsheimer, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin took team gold ahead of Germany inside Greenwich Park.

That gold marked the best Olympic performance by a GB team since the 1908 London Games, where the hosts then supplied almost one-third of the entrants and won 56 golds.

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The horse and rider team gold followed triathlete Alistair Brownlee, who won the U.K.'s 19th gold earlier on Tuesday.

As the horses and riders took to the podium, Twitter lit up with precious metal celebrations.

Prime Minister David Cameron's office tweeted: "It's official - our most successful Olympics for gold medals. Victory in the Dressage makes it a truly golden summer for @TeamGB."

And Boris Johnson, the mayor of London who has found himself criticized for inviting medial mogul Rupert Murdoch to be his guest during the Games late last week, began stoking the media fervor.

"More equestrian excellence with a dressage gold and more bling for @TeamGB than at any Games since 1908. Keep up the medal momentum guys!" Johnson tweeted.

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Even the Financial Times correspondent Ben Fenton couldn't contain his glee at the medal haul of the same color as his newspaper albeit with a wry take on the success.

"Last time Britain did this well in gold medals, there were golds for jeu-de-paume, rugby and running deer shooting."

Headlines broke out across the web as the gold medal haul surpassed Beijing's tally.

The Telegraph's website shouted: "Team GB wins historic 20th gold as attention turns to velodrome," referring to the cycling finals featuring British riders Tuesday afternoon and evening.

The Independentsite carried a succinct summation so far: "Britain Beats Beijing Total" while The Guardian's website front page carried the simple headline: "Britain's best gold haul for a century."

But it was the tabloids that can always be relied for fun and puns. "Golden Brownlee," screamed The Sun, owned by News International, News Corp.'s publishing division referring to the triathlete who equaled the Beijing tally. It also included the dressage win.

And the headlines and screams of unfettered shouts for British success will only increase as Laura Trott, one of the medal hopefuls from the British cycling team rode her way into the history books with gold in the omnium.

Born with a collapsed lung and having to spend the first months of her life in intensive care, Trott is a young talent that the U.K. newspapers will enjoy for the next few days.

And front pages will be dominated by Sir Chris Hoy, who rode to gold in the Keirin cycle race bringing the velodrome venue’s Games to a close in fitting style for the partisan British crowd. Hoy’s win makes him the most successful British male Olympian of all time with this his sixth gold medal from two Olympic Games.

But his joy will be contrasted by the newspapers and the wider media as the U.K.’s golden girl of track cycling Victoria Pendleton took the silver in her last ever track race here, just pipped to Gold by arch rival, the Australian rider Anna Meares.

But once again, cult comedian and the bad boy of standup Frankie Boyle brought everyone down to earth. "I think that after the Olympics Britain should give up being a country, go out on a high."

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