This is simply one of those things which I was curious about, and found it tricky to find online. Eventually I did. So I present the data here in the hope that it might save you an equally long search.
I suspect that Great Britain’s Olympic medals totals – and position overall in the table – are lower than most people think, or seem to remember. We’ve rarely crept into the top ten since World War 2, and don’t forget our results were probably exaggerated in the Olympic Games which had boycotts, which were 1980 and 1984 to the best of my memory. In fact, GB’s performance at the last two Olympics have been exceptional, and they’re shaping up to be just as good in Beijing in 2008. Just because we don’t have a couple of superstar middle distance runners any more, doesn’t mean we don’t sit at the top table. We do.
(Mind you, as has been pointed out, the sports where we excel, such as rowing, sailing, equestrianism, cycling etc., all have one thing in common: they’re the sports where you sit on your backside. How very British)
UPDATE: Day Ten of the Beijing Olympics, and just in case it never gets any better than this, here’s today’s medal table. You read it right: that’s third. Yes, THIRD.