“I dreamed of this everyday”: Britain's female athletes celebrate wins at Rio 2016

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

Amidst the doom and gloom that has defined 2016 for women so far (see racismsexism and Donald Trump), there remains one shining beacon of hope: our mesmerisingly brilliant Team GB female athletes.

Already making their mark at Rio 2016 by smashing Olympic records and bagging medals left, right and centre, the Games have so far been a huge success for Britain's female competitors. From cyclist Laura Trott becoming the first British woman to score four gold medals, to Becky James overcoming a cancer scare to secure two silver medals in cycling, Rio has been a nail-bitingly brilliant exercise in female triumph.

Here, we go behind-the-scenes to see how some of our favourite female athletes have been celebrating their victory with the most glorious snaps on Instagram.

Laura Trott (Omnium: Gold)

Having already become Britain's first female athlete to nab three gold medals (see below), Trott went on to smash her own record in the omnium race, winning yet another gold medal to add to her impressive haul.

Speaking after the race, Britain's most successful female athlete held back tears as she said, "I can't believe it - I did not expect that at all. I am just so happy that it all came together."

Becky James (Sprint: Silver, Keirin: Silver)

Welsh cycling champion Becky James, 24, truly overcame the odds to smash both the women's sprint and keirin challenges and bring home not one, but two silver medals.

The athlete missed out on competing in the London 2012 Games as she was undergoing an operation for appendicitis. She has since survived a cancer scare, followed by surgery for a shoulder injury and months of rehab for damage to her knee.

Speaking to BBC Sport after her keirin victory, she said, "I was so desperate for that medal, I can't believe it happened.

"It was so special, I have 10 of my family here. My mum has never been on a long-haul flight before... It has been a tough two years and I couldn't have done it without everyone's help."

Katy Marchant (Women's Sprint: Bronze)

Katy Marchant, 23, made her mark on her first Olympic Games by winning a triumphant bronze medal in the women's sprint. 

Marchant, who started her career as a heptathlete, said, "All the hard work, sweat and tears has paid off. I cannot believe it."

Amy Tinkler (Women's Floor: Bronze)

Sixteen-year-old gymnast Amy Tinkler was never going to let age stand in her way. The youngest British athlete in the Games, Tinkler became the third ever British woman to win a gymnastics individual medal, describing the moment as "incredible".

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro (Individual Dressage: Gold)

Charlotte Dujardin, 31, has won a second successive Olympic dressage gold medal and a third overall after her performance at the London 2012 Olympics. She scored 93.857 out of 100 on her horse Valegro, who is soon to retire.

She's only the second British woman in history to win three Olympic gold medals - after cyclist Laura Trott.

Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald (Women's Pursuit Team: Gold)

The four members of the brilliant women's pursuit team, including Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald, not only cycled to gold-medal victory but also smashed the world record for speediness, clocking in a time of just four minutes, 10.236 seconds.

The race made Trott, 24, our most decorated female athlete, with no less than three gold medals to her name.

After the race, she declared she "could not be prouder right now", before revealing she was a girl after our own hearts by sleeping with her medal tucked safely under her pillow.

Special mention for Rowsell-Shand's fierce GB manicure, too.

Jess Ennis-Hill (Heptathlon: Silver)

Jess Ennis-Hill jumped, threw and ran her way to second place victory in the haptathlon, which involves a grueling long jump, javelin throw and 800m run.

One of Britain's most successful female track and field athletes, Ennis-Hill, 30, later said that this was to be her last Olympics, although she called the evening a "top night" as she posed for a selfie with her competitors and Usain Bolt (below).

Jazz Carlin (400m Freestyle: Silver, 800m Freestyle: Silver)

Welsh swimmer Jazz Carlin, 25, became our first double medalist of Rio after taking home silver medals in both the 400m and 800m freestyle races.

As well as posting plenty of (well deserved) snaps of her haul on Instagram, she encouraged her followers to "never give up" on their dreams, and said, "If someone had told me four years ago that I would be stood on a podium twice with two silver medals I would have said there is no way.

“It has taken a lot of time to get here and there have been times when I haven’t believed in myself but my family and the all of the support staff around me have believed in me from the bottom."

Carlin also thanked her parents for their support, and her father Roger was spotted in the stands wearing the "lucky" striped shirt he has donned to watch all of his daughter's sporting events. 

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (200m Individual Medley: Silver)

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, 20, is not only the first British woman to win a medal in the 200m medley, but also a British record breaker, with an impressive time of two minutes, 06.88 seconds now under her belt.

The star, who began swimming at a young age, took to Instagram to share a triumphant image of herself and wrote, "I've dreamed of winning an Olympic medal everyday since I was 7 years old. Not many words can describe how this feels."

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning (Women's Coxless Pair: Gold)

Not only have rowing stars Helen Glover and Heather Stanning never lost a race together, the pair have now also defended their title as champions of the coxless pair, storming their way to gold once again.

When the pair won the title at London in 2012, it was not only the first gold medal of the games but also the first in British women's rowing.

Zoe de Toledo, Fran Houghton, Katie Grieves, Melanie Wilson, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett and Zoe Lee (Women's Eight: Silver)

British cox Zoe de Toledo pushed this year's team to secure Britain's first ever medal in the Women's Eights rowing tournament.

Together with Toledo, the team, comprised of Fran Houghton, Katie Grieves, Melanie Wilson, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett and Zoe Lee, achieved a silver medal despite being in last place at half time.

Bryony Page (Women's Trampolining: Silver)

Britain have never made it to the final of women's trampolining before,  making Bryony Page's triumphant silver medal in the category that bit more special.

The rightly ecstatic 25-year-old told BBC Sport, "I can't believe I've won an Olympic medal. I'm just so happy."

Charlotte Dujardin, Fiona Bigwood, Carl Hester and Spencer Wilton (Dressage: Silver)

The dream team of Charlotte Dujardin, Fiona Bigwood, Carl Hester and Spencer Wilton stormed through the dressage final to bring home a silver medal for Britain.

Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley (Double Sculls: Silver)

Katherine Grainger became Britain's most decorated female Olympian after securing a silver medal in Double Sculls, which she can now add to her haul of three other silver medals and a gold.

Grainger, 40, rowed to victory with partner Victoria Thornley, 28, despite both not making the cut for the initial GB squad.

Sally Conway (70kg Judo: Bronze)

Champion Sally Conway, 29, said it "still hasn't sunk in" that she won a bronze medal for her brilliant performance in the 70kg judo tournament.

Want to find out what it really takes to become an Olympian? Gold medallist Joanna Rowsell-Shand and more top athletes will be live in conversation with sports journalist Anna Kessel for the “Sweat, sacrifice and sleepless nights: Heroes of Rio 2016” talk at Stylist Live this October.

Stylist Live, A Festival of Inspiration takes place from 13 – 16 October, at the Business Design Centre, London. Book tickets here