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Summer Olympics History: Great Britain's Top Olympians Before World War II

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Great Britain at the Summer Olympics Prior to WW II

Great Britain was generally one of the top countries in the medal standings at the Summer Olympic Games prior to World War II.

After solid performances at the 1896 and 1900 Olympics, Great Britain did not send a team to the St. Louis Games in 1904.

But as the host of the Games in 1908 in London, Great Britain's Olympic athletes dominated the medal standings and finished in first place with 56 golds among their 146 medals.

At the Olympics held in the 1920s, Great Britain's best excelled in athletics, boxing, and rowing.

The 1932 and 1936 Olympics were disappointments, however, as the worldwide economic depression limited participation in the former, while Great Britain went home from the Berlin Games with only a tenth-place standing in the overall medal table.

The following list includes brief information on the ten men that I consider the best for Great Britain at the Summer Olympics through 1936:

Harold Abrahams: A star in jump and sprint events, Abrahams focused on the 100 meters at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. He achieved his goal of winning gold in the event, and was also a part of the silver-medal winning 4x100 meter relay team.

Jack Beresford: Beresford had a long, illustrious career career in rowing. At the Olympics from 1920 to 1936, he had five podium finishes, including three golds.

Reginald Doherty: A four-time Wimbledon singles champion, Doherty also earned four medals in Olympic tennis competition, with three of them gold.

Albert Hill: Considered old at the time of his first and only Olympics in 1920, the 31-year-old Hill won gold on the track in both the 800 and 1500 meters.

John Arthur Jarvis: A top swimmer at the beginning of the 20th century, Jarvis won a pair of golds at the 1900 Olympics in Paris. His titles were in the 1000 and 4000-meter freestyles.

Eric Liddell: Another British star on the track at the 1924 Olympics, Liddell captured gold in the 400 meters, and added the bronze in the 200 meters.

Douglas Lowe: The world's best runner at 800 meters throughout most of the 1920s, Lowe was victorious in the event at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics for a pair of golds.

Harry Mallin: Mallin won the Middleweight boxing gold at both the 1920 and 1924 Olympics.

Paulo Radmilovic: Radmilovic led Great Britain to three straight golds in water polo between 1908 and 1920. He also swam a leg on the gold-medal winning 4x200 meter freestyle relay squad at the London Games.

Henry Taylor: Great Britain's most decorated Olympian for decades, Taylor put together a tremendous career in swimming over the course of two decades. He won three golds at the 1908 Olympics, and added a relay bronze at each of the 1912 and 1920 Olympics.

Related content: Olympic Flashback: A Look at the Career of British Swimming Great Henry Taylor

Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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