Olympic champion Nick Skelton eyes Rolex Grand Slam

  • In the week since Nick Skelton was crowned Olympic champion in Rio, he’s hurtled through a whirlwind of interviews, television appearances and Skelfies — he even earned a round of applause on the flight back from Rio when the pilot announced his presence on the plane.

    So with the gold medal apparently now neatly tucked in Nick’s sock drawer alongside the team accolade from 2012, has there been time to reflect on what happens next?

    “I’ll keep going as long as Big Star keeps going,” says Nick. “But it was amazing to get there – to execute something you’ve planned for so many years.”

    After a well-deserved holiday, the short-term plan for Big Star is to jump a few smaller classes in Europe as a sweetener after the rigours of Rio, but one very big prize could be in the Warwickshire rider’s sights.

    I think I’ll probably try to tackle the [Rolex] Grand Slam,” he told H&H — something Big Star’s owners Gary and Beverley Widdowson would fully support.

    In 2013 Nick and Big Star became the first grand slam contenders when they won the Aachen grand prix. But shortly afterwards, the stallion was hit by injury and the pair were unable to chase the title at the remaining legs in Spruce Meadows and Geneva.

    One of the many benefits of winning an Olympic gold medal in showjumping is that it automatically qualifies you to compete in any CSIO or CSI grand prix. As Nick is currently ranked 309 in the Longines world rankings, this opens up a whole host of opportunities not normally afforded to someone outside the top 30 or 40.

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    So as Nick rides this golden wave, there’s only one question to ask our new national hero – will we ever see him foxtrotting his way on to Strictly Come Dancing?

    “No you will not — not a chance!”

    Sequins or not, it’s great to have this brilliant pair back to their very best.

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