Olympic gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics 11082012 CREDIT DORSET MEDIA SERVICE, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Olympics

Olympics: The Military Stars Who've Won Gold In History

The Armed Forces have long had a connection with the Olympics reaching the Gold medal pinnacle numerous times throughout its history.

Olympic gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics 11082012 CREDIT DORSET MEDIA SERVICE, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

British Army soldier and Team GB fighter, Karriss Artingstall, is the military's first female Olympic boxer and is just two wins away from a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo.

Already guaranteed at least a bronze medal after reaching the semi-finals in the featherweight (57kg) competition, she will fight for the chance at a gold medal on Saturday against Japan's Sena Irie.

A notable amount athletes have already celebrated Olympic gold medal success alongside their military careers, in a plethora of events from distance running to equestrian. 

Here's a look at some of the biggest names in the Armed Forces to have won gold. 

Major Heather Stanning 

A serving Major with the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery, Heather Stanning wrote her name into the history books at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with golden performances alongside Helen Glover in the women's pair rowing event.

The duo became the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title and the first to successfully defend their crown four years later in Brazil. 

Maj Stanning was honoured with an OBE in 2017 after being recognised for her past services to rowing.

She announced her retirement at the Army Sports Awards in 2016

"Throughout my rowing career I have been continually supported by the Army and I am forever grateful," she told British Rowing.

"It has made transitioning from sport to another career much easier, having the ability to slot back into a life I knew before being an Olympian was so helpful for me post-London, and now, as I end my rowing career, I have something I know to immediately throw my focus and energy into."

Watch: Heather Stanning announces her retirement in 2016.

Lieutenant Pete Reed

Royal Navy Lieutenant Pete Reed became a triple Olympic champion at Rio 2016 after following up on memorable victories in the men's four at Beijing 2008 and the men's eight in London 2012.

The three-time Olympic gold medallist took up rowing while training as an officer on board HMS Exeter in 2001.

He received an OBE at Buckingham Palace for his services to British rowing in 2017.

He is one of the Great Britain Rowing Team’s most decorated members, due to his World Championship and Olympic medals and was generally known in the rowing world as 'Commander'. 

Lt Reed suffered a spinal stroke in 2019, which left him paralysed, and has been in rehabilitation since.

Earlier this year, he helped raise thousands of pounds in a charity challenge by covering the distance of the River Thames as part of a team of eight.

The British athlete, who was actually born in Seattle, Washington, and moved to the UK months later, also discussed his recovery from the spinal stroke.

He said: "I feel like I'm transitioning out of full-time rehab now and back into what feels like the rest of life.

"I'm in a wheelchair so I'm 18 inches shorter but I feel like myself again."

Dame Kelly Holmes Honorary Colonel
Dame Kelly Holmes was appointed a British Army Honorary Colonel in 2018.

Dame Kelly Holmes

Dame Kelly Holmes won two gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 800m and 1500m to add to the 800m bronze she won in Sydney in 2000.

The double Olympic champion served with the British Army for 10 years before becoming an elite athlete and was appointed Honorary Colonel by the British Army in 2018.

Captain Jim Fox

Former Army Captain Jim Fox is the only British pentathlete to have competed in four Olympic Games, winning gold in the team event at the 1976 Games in Montreal.

He is seen as one of the most influential figures in the development of the Modern Pentathlon in Britain. 

Fox, who served in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was awarded the OBE for services to the Modern Pentathlon.

Soldier and Olympic Modern Pentathlon gold medallist Captain Jim Fox is chaired by his pals upon his return to Arborfield Camp, Berkshire 04081976 CREDIT PA, ALAMY
Cpt Jim Fox is lifted by friends at Arborfield Camp, Berkshire, after winning his Olympic gold medal in 1976 (Picture: PA/Alamy).

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame is the only person to have won an Olympic gold medal and Victoria Cross (VC), Britain's highest military award. 

He won the VC at Neuve Chapelle in December 1914 during World War One.

Two years later he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order medal and after filling various commands with distinction, attained the rank of lieutenant general in 1940.

Lt Gen Sir Philip won his Olympic gold medal at the running deer shooting competition in the 1924 games in Paris. 

In his autobiography, which he wrote in captivity before escaping from an Italian Prisoner of War Camp, revealed he was under the impression that he was representing the British Empire rather than Great Britain at the 1924 games.

According to his profile on Team GB's website, Lt Gen Sir Philip also represented the Army in both revolver and rifle competitions. 

Cover image: Gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games (Picture: Dorset Media Service/Alamy Stock Photo).