Anky van Grunsven has made Olympic history by winning three consecutive individual gold medals: in Sydney on Bonfire, in Athens on Salinero and, again, here in the electric atmosphere of Hong Kong, another gold on the same horse.
“I must be the most spoilt rider in the world,” she said.
The Dutch rider’s hugely superior mark of 82.4% for a demanding kur gave her an overall mark of 78.86% and a nearly 2% lead over her old rival, Germany’s Isabell Werth.
The pair have been in hot competition since Isabell won gold in Atlanta in 1996, but this was Anky’s night after Isabell’s enigmatic Satchmo again put in a violent disobedience in the piaffe-pirouette, and thereafter had some tense moments.
Anky said: “After my grand prix special, I thought the gold was gone, but then I realised that the competition was open again and, when Isabell made the mistake again, I knew I didn’t have to take all the risks.”
Germany took bronze too, a first individual medal for Heike Kemme, and the USA’s Steffan Peters just missed out in fourth, despite having the better freestyle.
Emma Hindle finished seventh on a final score of 72.34% after an upbeat and rousing performance, which scored 74.25%, later disclosing to a shocked audience that she had undergone surgery to remove an ovarian tumour in June.
“My team mates made me go for a check up, and it was the British team that got me back, because I couldn’t even walk at one stage. I’m not a good patient!
“So I’m proud of my horse, proud of my team, and proud of my friends.”
Read Horse & Hound’s full report on the individual dressage competition, on sale 28 August ’08