Double Olympic champion Nick Skelton to retire from show jumping

Double Olympic champion Nick Skelton to retire from show jumping

05 April 2017 / 10:22

Nick Skelton is to hang up the saddle for the final time after announcing his retirement with Big Star, the horse on which he became a double Olympic gold medallist.

The 59-year-old became Team GB’s second oldest champion in history when he took individual show jumping glory at Rio 2016, four years after winning team gold with Scott Brash, Ben Maher and Peter Charles at London 2012.

Rio was also a seventh Olympic Games for Skelton, 16 years after a broken neck had initially forced him to retire from the sport.

But the Bedworth rider, also a World Championship silver and four-time bronze medallist, will be taking his final ride at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, on May 14.

“It has come to a point, after months of thought and consideration, that myself and my partner Big Star have decided to retire from competition,” he added.

“Although there are many people, including my family, Gary and Beverley Widdowson, and my team, that were looking forward to us carrying on this year, we feel that Big Star has done everything that a rider could ask and it is time for him to relax and enjoy his stallion duties.

“I have always stated that when Big Star finished I would too. This sport has given me more than I could ever have hoped over the past 43 years and it is such a difficult decision to make, but I’m not getting any younger and it is nice for the two of us to end on the highest note possible.”

Injured in a fall in 2000, Skelton was fit enough to compete again just two years later in a career that also saw him amass ten European medals and a World Cup title.

Creating history was to be a mainstay of his career, still holding the British show jumping high jump record set in 1978, part of a journey that has spanned more than four decades.

That included his team jumping title in front of the home London crowds, while Rio saw his name written into the record books once more with Big Star, becoming the first British Olympic individual show jumping gold medallist.

Those honours saw Skelton finish third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016, with now the perfect time for both he and Big Star to ride off into the sunset.

"This sport has given me more than I could have ever hoped," he added.

"Thank you to all of the incredible friends and fans for your support - we are truly appreciative and humbled.

"And lastly, thank you to all of the horses I've ridden. You have provided me with opportunities one could never have imagined."

Sportsbeat 2017

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