As the Rio 2016 Olympics loom large on the horizon, there is no better time to look back to that heady day (6 August) in 2012 when the British showjumping team delighted equestrian fans by winning Olympic gold in Greenwich. This was the first time Britain’s showjumpers had been crowned Olympic champions in 60 years.
Currently we’re all waiting with baited breath to find out who will make up the British showjumping team for the Games in Rio. It had looked touch and go as to whether we would have the chance to defend our title when team qualification went down to the wire at the FEI 2015 European Showjumping Championships in Aachen. But some great performances by Team GBR saw the country finish fourth, which was enough to ensure qualification.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy looking back at some of the iconic images of British success at London 2012 and remind ourselves of that very special jump off, which kept us all right on the edge of our seats…
How Britain won Olympic showjumping gold in London
The typical British weather couldn’t put a dampner on the action, as Britain was forced 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 brilliant stallion. “He’s an absolute genius”.
Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos just tipped the second fence in the Olympic team jump-off for four faults. His owner Lord Harris has confirmed that Rio will be Sanctos’ last championship team appearance and is backing Scott to add individual gold to his outstanding achievements to date.
When Peter Charles came back into the arena as the final British rider to jump, he needed to collect four faults or less with the inexperienced Vindicat for Britain to take gold.
Although Vindicat had grown in confidence throughout the team competition, the partnership’s performances had been patchy to say the least, collecting nine faults on the first day and eight in the first round on the second day.
It’s unsurprising that chef d’equipe Rob Hoekstra, course designer Bob Ellis and rider Nick Skelton were looking a little tense…
But Peter produced the ride of his life as Vindicat tried his heart out to jump clear and give Britain Olympic gold — the first time since the team that contained Harry Llewellyn and Foxhunter in 1952.
The home crowds were absolutely delighted and gave our riders and their horses a rousing reception.
“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.”
London 2012 Olympic team showjumping results
Gold: Great Britain
Silver: The Netherlands
Bronze: Saudi Arabia.