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Olympic legend calls time on his second eventing career

Former Olympic and world champion Blyth Tait has retired from eventing for a second time, aged 58.

The New Zealander had had his eye on a fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo but announced he was calling time on his stellar career, at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show in New Zealand, where he has been competing in showjumping classes, yesterday (11 March).

“The likelihood of me competing again overseas is unlikely,” Blyth said.

“I’m very happy to hand over the reins to the younger ones coming through and I support them fully.  There is a bright future and still some serious young talent out there.”

Picture courtesy of KAMPIC/Kerry Marshall

Blyth’s major achievements include team and individual gold at the 1990 World Equestrian Games on Messiah, and individual gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics on the then-eight-year-old Ready Teddy, with whom he also won a second individual world title, and was on the gold medal-winning team, two years later. He was on the bronze medal-winning team in Atlanta, where there were two separate eventing competitions, on Chesterfield.

He was on the silver medal-winning team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics on Messiah, also taking individual bronze. He won Burghley Horse Trials in 1998 on Chesterfield, and in 2001 on Ready Teddy.

“I’m not really one to reflect much on what’s been, I like to keep moving forward,” Blyth said.

“I’ve met some of the most fantastic people in the sport, and travelled to some of the most amazing places to compete, all born out of an original love of horses and the excitement of competition.

“To have been successful for so long, I can look back with satisfaction. But it does take an enormous amount of hard work and 110% commitment, and now that I’m older it’s hard to sustain.”

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Blyth, one of only four New Zealanders to have won at least four Olympic medals, retired after the 2004 Games, serving as a coach and team manager for the New Zealand eventing team at the 2006 World Championships and 2008 Olympics, but returned to the sport in 2011.

He said he remembers a number of highlights, such as winning his two world championships, but added: “The Olympic gold medal – that’s the pinnacle. Representing New Zealand on a bigger scale would have to be my biggest achievement.”

Blyth said he will still showjump, adding: “I’m out there to have a bit of fun… put it this way, if it’s raining I will be going home!”

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