HINRICH Romeike maintained his composure during the most pressurised show jumping round of his life to add individual Olympic eventing honours to the team gold he had already secured.
“I was expecting team gold but not the individual gold, but somehow it just came,” said Hinrich, a true amateur who works full time as a dental surgeon and only rides his horses in the evening.
The final individual show jumping round, held in an electrified Sha Tin arena and over a shorter course than that used for the team contest, prompted a shake-up of the other medal placings.
A clear round from America’s Gina Miles and the Irish-bred McKinlaigh gave them individual silver.
“I’ve done everything I set out to do, but I just wish my teammates could have been here with me too,” said Gina in reference to the disappointing result of the US squad which finished in seventh in the team standings.
Britain’s Tina Cook edged her way up through the rankings and her second clear round of the night ensured that she collected a “surprise” bronze. It was just reward for Tina, who had got so close to competing at Sydney in 2000, when she was the travelling reserve.
“This [result] means the world to me,” said Tina, who went into the arena with less than a fence between her and the leader Hinrich Romeike. “It’s what you dream about for years. I’ve got just three event horses, but I’ve concentrated on this one because I think so much of him.”
Megan Jones and Irish Jester, who had been lying third, were nearly home and dry, but to gasps from the crowd the final fence fell.
“I just didn’t sit up enough to that fence. I’ve only had five fences down with this horse and two of them were tonight,” said a disappointed Megan.
Ingrid Klimke suffered a similar fate, four faults collected at the second show jump by Abraxxas, together with one time fault, leaving her out of the medals in fifth place.
France’s Didier Dhennin did a great rescue job for his luckless country, which failed to complete a team, by securing sixth place with Ismene Du Temple after recording one of only 10 clear rounds in this deciding contest.
Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time were seventh with a four-fault round, while two rails down dropped Andreas Dibowski to eighth.
Mary King and William Fox-Pitt finished just out of the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.
“We came to this competition full of hope, although we knew things would have to go our way to beat the Australians and the Germans. For both of them things went incredibly well, while for us things just went very well,” said William.
American Phillip Dutton, who finished 16th in the individual round on Connaught, was disqualified from the competition when he contravened the FEI horse welfare ruling, introduced in February this year, that horse boots should weigh no more than 500g.
Stay in touch with all the news from the Olympics on Horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s full report from the eventing competition, on sale FRIDAY 15 August, ’08