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Britain’s most iconic sporting moments

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England win the 1966 World Cup


10 memorable British sporting achievements

Britain has enjoyed a long and rich history of sporting successes, fronted by a whole host of sports stars who are fiercely proud of representing and competing for their country. From Olympic glory to victories against all odds, here are 10 of Britain's greatest sporting moments.

England win the 1966 World Cup

With an excited home crowd watching on expectantly, England's World Cup final clash with West Germany in 1966 was quite simply the soccer showdown of the century. The hosts pulled off a memorable win in a match full of goals and controversy, which ended in a pitch invasion after Geoff Hurst's last minute winning goal. An achievement that the nation will never forget, and England have still never managed to repeat.

Steve Redgrave wins five successive gold medals

When Steve Redgrave won his fourth successive Olympic gold in 1996, he jokingly gave anyone who saw him getting into a boat again permission to shoot him. But four years later there he was yet again, gearing up for the race of a lifetime in the coxless four final at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In the end the race was tantalisingly close, with the British team edging it by 0.38 seconds to earn Sir Steve a historic fifth successive gold medal.

Roger Bannister breaks the four minute mile

For years it was widely believe that running a mile in under four minutes was impossible, but during the 1930s and 1940s the record was slowly whittled down until people finally began to believe that this magic milestone of running was doable. The barrier was finally broken by Roger Bannister in 1954 when the Brit ran a mile in 3:59.4, making headlines the world over and securing his place in the history books in the process.

Torvill and Dean win gold

Figure skating isn't usually a big talking point with the British public, but during the 1984 Olympic Games practically every single person in the country was glued to their TV to watch ice dancing duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean go for gold. The pair didn't disappoint, giving the performance of their lives and achieving an unprecedented perfect score from the judges; a record that has still never been beaten.

England win the 2003 Rugby World Cup

Going into the Rugby World Cup final in 2003, the English team were accused by their Australian opponents of being too reliant on Jonny Wilkinson, whose kicking skills had practically dragged them single-handedly to the final. England had the last laugh though, as Wilkinson secured the 20-17 win with a dramatic drop goal in the dying seconds to clinch England's first and only World Cup victory.

Ian Botham leads England to Ashes victory

Everyone loves an underdog victory, and there is no better in Britain's sporting history than this. England's cricket team went into the third Ashes Test with Australia in 1981 as a side in disarray, and by the fourth day bookies were offering odds of 500-1 for a home victory. Step forward Ian Botham. His near-perfect batting performance inspired an unbelievable resurgence from the England team, who beat the odds to retain the Ashes and pull off one of the greatest comebacks cricket has ever seen.

Red Rum wins his third Grand National

After two heart-breaking second places in 1975 and 1976, it was starting to seem like the much loved racehorse Red Rum was never going to get his record breaking third Grand National win. The moment of truth finally came in 1977 and, although the race itself was fairly unremarkable, Red Rum's historic third victory was met with celebrations all over Britain and made him an equine celebrity for years to come.

Chris Hoy wins three gold medals

Britain's absolute domination of the track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games was fronted by Scotsman Chris Hoy, who was practically untouchable as he stormed around the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing. His triple gold medal haul was the result of a perfect performance, in which he set a still yet to be beaten world record and won every single race he competed in.

England beat Germany 5-1

England approached their game against Germany in Munich with the world expecting them to lose, after a disappointing opening to their qualifying campaign which included a home defeat by Germany. England clearly hadn't read the script. After the German opener, England scored five goals with no response, handing Germany their largest ever home defeat and ensuring bragging rights for years to come.

Colin Jackson breaks the world record

Colin Jackson's hurdling career was an impressive one, with two World and four European Championships to his name. The pinnacle of this was his world record-breaking victory in the 1993 World Championships, with his trademark dip taking him over the line in 12.91s. The Welshman's record was so blisteringly fast that it wasn't broken until 13 years later; a remarkably long time in athletics.

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