In a thrilling finale to the equestrian competition out at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Great Britain’s Nick Skelton was crowned the Individual Jumping Olympic Champion with his ride Big Star, and with it becomes the first British athlete to win an equestrian jumping individual gold medal for Team GB.
Producing two clear rounds in the first two rounds on the final day of the individual jumping event, Nick went forward to contest a six-rider jump-off to determine the medals. First of the six riders to jump and showing all of his experience, he expertly guided Beverley Widdowson’s Big Star around the technical 1.60m track to record his third clear round of the day in a fast time of 42.82 seconds.
In a nail-biting end to the jump-off, the British fans were on the edges of their seats as the final five riders completed their final rounds. Stopping the clock less than a second behind Nick, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson took the Silver with Eric Lamaze of Canada taking the Bronze.
“I have been in the sport a long, long time and to win this now at my age, I’m so happy, it’s just amazing!" said Nick,
“I was emotional [on the podium] because I am so happy and it’s been a long time, to do this now is like unbelievable for me. I’ve always wanted to do this and I nearly did it in London in the Individual. I’ve had European medals and World medals but to win this and be lucky enough to get this horse here is pretty emotional for all concerned in my team.”
Securing his Olympic gold medal, Nick becomes the oldest gold medallist, aged 58, for Team GB since 1908; “I’d like to thank the BOA for what they have done getting us here and obviously UK Sport who support the team. It’s nice to be the oldest one.”
Team-mate Ben Maher produced two brilliant rounds today with Jane Forbes Clark’s Tic Tac. After an unfortunate pole down in the first round to see him through to the second round on four penalties, the combination were also unlucky to see a second fence fall and accrue a time penalty, leaving them on a total penalty score of 17 after the two rounds, putting them into 25th place in the Individual standings.
Ben commented after his first round today; “He jumped great again, it was just unfortunate as I think he has improved every day. He just didn’t get quite as much height as I would have liked [on the back rail] maybe he was looking through to the second part. I think I’ve said all week that if I had more time with him then there’s some things that we could definitely improve on and I think we’ll see that horse become very successful.”
The Individual jumping final brings about the end of the equestrian competition out at Rio, for what has been an exceptional three weeks of sport.