Great Britain wins team showjumping Olympic gold medal

Gold-showjumpers.jpg

Britain’s showjumpers have won Olympic gold for the first time in 60 years.

The team of Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles had to jump off for the gold medal against the Netherlands after both teams finished on eight faults after two rounds.

Nick Skelton, first to go, jumped his fourth clear round of the Games on Big Star.

“He is a freak, there really isn’t anything he can’t do,” Nick said of Beverley Widdowson’s nine-year-old stallion. “Long, short, he can do it all — he’s an absolute genius”.

Ben Maher replicated Nick’s clear on Tripple X, whose four faults earlier in the afternoon was his first fence down of the competition.

Scott Brash, who had jumped a perfect clear on Hello Sanctos less than an hour previously, just tipped the second fence for four faults.

“Sanctos was amazing today.” said Scott. “Being here has been fantastic, the crowd are unbelievable and I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like this again. It really has been the best day of my life.”

The three Dutch riders who had jumped so far had amassed 12 faults — only Jur Vrieling was faultless, managing his first clear round of the competition. But Peter Charles had to have four faults or less to take gold for Britain.

Amazingly, he did it. The inexperienced Vindicat has improved throughout the Games, looking green and intimidated on the first day for nine faults, then eight faults in the first round of the Nations Cup.

In the second round this afternoon he hit one and collected a time-fault, so it seemed impossible he would achieve his first clear now.

But Vindicat tried his heart out and jumped clear to give Britain Olympic gold — the first time since the team that contained Harry Llewellyn and Foxhunter in 1952.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” said Nick Skelton. “I’ve been to a lot of Games, made a lot of mistakes. We couldn’t have done it in a better place; the crowd have been incredible and really helped us along.”

The Dutch took silver, with Saudi Arabia taking their first Olympic team medal in bronze.

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First H&H reports on the Olympic dressage and showjumping team contests in the magazine out FRIDAY, 10 August

Peter Charles and Scott Brash interview