This year is shaping up to be a summer of a lifetime for newly crowned Olympic showjumping champion Ben Maher – he is following up his Olympic gold medal in Tokyo with his own wedding just a couple of weeks later.
Ben is due to tie the knot with Sophie Gracida this month – and his winning Olympic ride Explosion W will also be present as they will be getting married at Ben’s Hertfordshire base.
“I don’t know what was more pressure: this or getting married in two weeks,” laughed Ben immediately after the medal ceremony in Tokyo. “There are so many people who contributed to make this possible and hopefully we’ll get home and have a big celebration.
“We are having a small wedding at home with close friends and family. It crossed my mind that it will be a very good party if something went right this week. We can look forward to that now.”
Straight after the nail-biting jump-off in which Ben and Explosion clinched gold over Sweden’s Peder Fredricson (All In) and the Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten (Beauville Z), Ben was on the phone to Sophie, and said there was “a lot of screaming and crying”.
Ben Maher: wedding planning in Tokyo
Gearing up to ride at Olympic Games is a pretty all-consuming task, but Ben says he has found time for a few bits of wedding preparation in the run-up – as well as the night before the individual final.
“I managed to get an hour out to go and get my suit [before coming out to Tokyo] and I spent half a day with Sophie to try to be involved,” said Ben.
“Sophie is from America where they have a rehearsal dinner the night before [the wedding] and I took that on as my bit. I finalised everything yesterday actually – it’s been a nice distraction as there is a lot of waiting around in the hotel. It was nice to take my mind off things.”
He may have the rehearsal dinner and the suit sorted, but Ben admitted that he didn’t have a stag do planned. In fact, his busy schedule continues as he heads to the London leg of the Global Champions Tour next week (13-15 August).
“Sophie puts up with a lot from me,” added Ben. “ I work hard, I’m not at home very often. I’m sure she’ll be happy when I get home and we can enjoy all this together.
“It is all about Sophie in two weeks’ time – I will put [the gold medal] away.”
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