Following the news today of Olympic showjumping champion Nick Skelton's retirement from competition, we've dug out some facts and figures about the legendary showjumper, whose outstanding career has spanned more than four decades
1. Nick was three-years-old when he starting riding. His first pony was a bay Welsh Mountain called Oxo, who died at Nick’s home at the impressive age of 39.
2. The showjumper’s original ambition was to be a National Hunt jockey — but going to ride for the Edgars and quickly finding success with showjumping, meant racing slipped into the background.
3. His first major competition win came in 1975 at the Junior European Championships where he took individual gold and team silver riding Okay.
4. In 1978 Nick broke the high-jump record, clearing 7ft 7 5/16in at Olympia on Lastic. Nick was just 21-years-old at the time.
5. He secured three consecutive Hickstead Derby titles with Apollo in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
6. In September 2000, shortly before the Sydney Olympics, Nick suffered a crashing fall that broke his neck in two places. The upper half of his spine was immobilised for five months and he was forced to retire from showjumping in 2001. But the bone eventually healed and he made a miraculous return to the sport in 2002.
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After more than four decades at the top…
7. He has competed in seven Olympic Games – plus the “alternative” Olympics in Rotterdam in 1980 – and was part of the gold-medal winning team at London 2012 with Beverley Widdowson’s Big Star before going on to take individual gold in Rio.
8. In December 2012, Nick was awarded an OBE by The Queen for his services to equestrian sport. And two postboxes were painted gold in honour of his Olympic triumph, in his hometown of Alcester and his birthplace of Bedworth. In 2016 he finished third in the Sports Personality of the Year award.
9. Both of Nick’s sons have carved successful careeers in the racing industry — his oldest son Dan is a National Hunt trainer, based on the family farm in Warwickshire, and his younger son Harry is a jump jockey.