But spare a thought for Jim Halliday who won a bronze medal in the weightlifting lightweight division at the 1948 games in London. What makes a bronze medal won 60 years ago in an event where British success is rare? Just three years before Halliday had been a Japanese prisoner of war and had shrunk in weight from 71kg (10 stone 12lb) to 38kg (about 6 stone).
Halliday began lifting at the age of 15 and had won the Lancashire lightweight title in 1936. He was called up into the Army at the start of the Second World War and had fought in the rearguard defending the evacuation at Dunkirk before being evacuated later at Boulogne. His regiment was later sent to Singapore where he was taken prisoner by the Japanese in February 1942.
Despite the conditions in Burma, he retained some of his natural strength - when one camp did not make a primitive barbell using tree trunks, none of the inmates nor the Japanese guards could lift it overhead. However, when Halliday was fetched from a neighbouring camp, he succeeded. As a result, the Japanese commandant further cut the rations because he believed the Britons were getting too strong.
After the war, Halliday started weightlifting again simply to recover his former bodyweight. However, competition again attracted him and he took part in the 1946 World Championships and in the 1948 Olympics, where he was third behind the winner, the outstanding Egyptian lifter Ibrahim Shams. Halliday took gold medals and the 1950 and 1954 Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth games).
Jim Halliday died on June 6, 2007, aged 89. His achievement goes to show that it is not just the champions who are the great Olympians. Recovering from horrendous ill treatment as a POW to medallist is a magnificent feat by anyone’s standards.