Britain is the spiritual home of many of the world's greatest games and a thriving sports culture exists in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Twenty seven million Britons of all ages and levels of ability play, watch and support 153 different sports.
Many of the world's most popular sports began in Britain. The earliest rules of cricket were written in 1727. Scotland is the home of golf. And the first unified rules for soccer (or football, as it is known in the rest of the world) were drawn up in the Britain in 1846. The British are often credited with introducing the modern game of soccer to the rest of the world. There are 42,000 soccer clubs throughout Britain.
Britain has a very full sporting calendar. Soccer is the largest spectator sport in the UK, with the Football Association's Cup Final the highlight of the season. Other major sporting events include the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Open Golf Championship, the Six Nations (England, Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, France and Italy) rugby union tournament, horse events such as the Derby and the Grand National steeplechase, and cricket Test matches.
Britain has over 100 sportsmen and women who hold world championship titles.
Olympic Games Athens 2004
The games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad took place in Athens 13 August to 29 August 2004. Britain sent 271 athletes to the games who competed in sports ranging from archery to wrestling.
Great Britain is one of only five countries which have never failed to be represented at the Olympic Games since 1896: Australia, France, Greece and Switzerland being the others.
At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Britain won 9 gold medals, 9 silver medals, including a silver for the FCO's Cath Bishop in rowing (Women's Coxless Pairs), and 12 bronze medals.
UK medals in Athens include: