Charlotte Dujardin on her fantastic individual Olympic bronze – ‘I wasn’t going down without a fight’

  • Charlotte Dujardin’s bronze medal in the individual Olympic dressage freestyle ensured there was not a dry eye in the British camp tonight. Riding the 10-year-old Apache son Gio, owned by herself, Renai Hart and Carl Hester, Charlotte gave it absolutely everything in the Tokyo stadium, performing a brand new routine created by Tom Hunt, and scoring 88.54%.

    Charlotte and the little 16hh “Pumpkin” took their incredible accomplishments from earlier in the week, and raised their game by several extra notches. Pumpkin barely put a foot wrong, despite this being just the third freestyle he has ever performed – and the pair’s first run-through of this routine, as it only arrived three days ago.

    “I just went out there knowing I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. But I also wanted to enjoy it out there and have fun, and I really did. This might be bronze, but he gave me absolutely everything and he’s a winner in my eyes,” said Charlotte. “I’m so proud of what Pumpkin has done tonight.”

    As she entered the arena for the third time at the Tokyo Olympics, Charlotte already knew that Jessica von Bredow-Werndl had scored a whopping 91.7% with TSF Dalera, and also had the unenviable situation of following Isabell Werth and a score  just shy of 90% – below Isabell’s best with Bella Rose, but nonetheless a very tough target. But no one copes with pressure better than Charlotte.

    Charlotte Dujardin and Isabell Werth share a high-five in the Tokyo Olympics

    Charlotte Dujardin and Isabell Werth share a high-five at the Tokyo Olympics. Credit Peter Nixon.

    It was a difficult floorplan, with multiple pirouettes and long curved lines of changes, but Pumpkin looked assured and extremely capable as Charlotte guided him through the test.

    “I really filled the floorplan to make it as hard as possible; he is a real trier and I knew he could cope, but to be honest it was like the blind leading the blind in there,” Charlotte laughed.

    As her score flashed up on the board, Charlotte punched the air. She said that she didn’t have a particular score in mind that she had hoped to reach, but there can be no doubt that, for a horse as inexperienced as Pumpkin on a stage as big as the Olympics, 88.54% was most definitely enough.

    The chunky score lifted her over Cathrine Dufour of Denmark, who had enjoyed a much improved ride on Bohemian compared to the previous day, and put Charlotte in the bronze medal position. However, there was still one rider yet to go – and a German one at that.

    Sadly for Dorothee Schneider, yesterday’s super plus-80% performance with Showtime to help win team gold for Germany turned out to be the peak of her Olympics. A somewhat lacklustre test with a few blips, especially in the pirouettes and the changes, meant a below-par score of 79%. The bronze was Charlotte’s.

    Charlotte Dujardin’s individual medal means she is now the most decorated female British Olympian in history, with six medals from three Olympics.

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