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State School Students Excelling at The Olympics

Analysis by the Sutton Trust has found that less than a third (32%) of Britain’s 130 medallists at Rio 2016 attended fee-paying schools, a four percentage point reduction from London 2012, when 36% of Team GB’s medal-winners were privately educated.

State schooling

Speaking to the BBC Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the charity, described the in state-educated athletes as “fantastic”.

“The success of Team GB in Rio has been a national triumph. It’s been fantastic to see a growing number of our national heroes coming from comprehensive and other state schools.

“But alumni of private schools are still over-represented among our medallists. Although some state schools have improved support for competitive sport over the last decade, they’re still more likely to benefit from ample time set aside for sport, excellent sporting facilities and highly qualified coaches.”

68% of Team GB’s 130 medallists attended state schools compared to 64% four years ago, the Sutton Trust’s analysis found.

The results are a clear sign that state-educated athletes are challenging the private school dominance of years gone by.


The charity’s research also found that most of the British Olympians who achieved multiple medals were educated at a state school.

  • Jason Kenny, triple gold medallist in cycling, went to a comprehensive school in Manchester
  • Max Whitlock, who won two golds and a bronze in gymnastics, went to a comprehensive school in Hertfordshire
  • Mo Farah, who won gold medals in the 5,000m and 10,000m attended a state school in West London
  • Laura Trott, winner of two cycling golds was at a Hertfordshire comprehensive school
  • Charlotte Dujardin, winner of gold and team silver in dressage attended a Bedfordshire comprehensive

But there are still some Olympic sports that remain dominated by the privately educated. Over half (52%) of Team GB’s medal winning rowers attended fee-paying schools as did 50% of the winning women’s hockey team.

The Sutton Trust’s analysis also found that an old Etonian has won a medal for the British team at every Olympics since 1992.

  • Matthew Pinsent (Rowing) 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004
  • William Fox-Pitt (Equestrian) 2008 and 2012
  • Constantine Louloudis (Rowing) 2012 and 2016

Further statistics and information are available on the Sutton Trust’s website:

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