The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today confirmed the five eventing athletes and their horses who will compete for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The selected riders, who were nominated to the BOA for selection to Team GB by the British Equestrian Federation on Monday, will compete at Greenwich Park this summer from the 28th to 31st July.
The athletes selected to Team GB today are:
Kristina Cook – riding Miners Frolic
William Fox-Pitt – riding Lionheart
Piggy French – riding Jakata or DHI Topper W
Mary King – riding Imperial Cavalier
Zara Phillips – riding High Kingdom
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The eventing team selected today to compete for Team GB this summer contains a wealth of experience; London 2012 will be Mary King’s sixth Olympic Games, William Fox-Pitt’s fourth, and Kristina Cook’s second. While Piggy French and Zara Phillips will be making their Olympic debuts, both have experience of competing at international championship level on the World and European stage.
Three of the riders - Kristina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King were part of the eventing team which claimed bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. They will be looking to improve on this performance in London and replicate the success they enjoyed at the 2010 World Championships, where they won team gold, and William Fox-Pitt claimed individual silver. Kristina Cook claimed the team’s only individual medal at the Beijing Games, recording bronze on her trusted mount, Miners Frolic, who she will ride in London this summer.
Piggy French will be hoping to reproduce the form she found when winning individual gold at the Olympic Test event in Greenwich last July. She has also medalled at major international competitions, winning individual silver at the 2009 European Championships and team bronze at the 2011 European Championships alongside William Fox-Pitt and Mary King.
Completing the team is Zara Phillips, who will be following in the footsteps of both her mother and father by representing Great Britain in eventing at an Olympic Games. Zara will be competing in her first Olympics, after injuries to her former horse, Toytown, denied her the opportunity to take part at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Her horse this summer will be High Kingdom, which she guided to third place at the Bramham Horse Trials last weekend.
The addition of the eventers brings the total number of athletes officially selected to compete for Team GB at London 2012 to 247 across twenty one sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, badminton, boxing, canoe slalom, canoe sprint, cycling, diving, equestrian eventing, fencing, hockey, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronised swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and weighlifting.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“We have a great equestrian tradition in Britain, which enjoys widespread popularity and support from a large proportion of the British public. This support has been boosted by the tremendous international success Britain has experienced in the sport, such as winning eventing team gold at the 2010 World Championships and claiming two bronze medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
“We have a really well-balanced team, which boasts the combined experience of competing at 12 Olympics, whilst also including two Olympic debutants, Piggy French and Zara Phillips, and I am fully confident the team will carry on Britain’s proud tradition and leave a lasting, successful London 2012 legacy.
“I would like to congratulate the British Equestrian Federation and the athletes themselves on their selection to Team GB, and welcome them all as part of Our Greatest Team.”
Team GB Equestrian Team Leader Will Connell said:
“The number of events cancelled this spring has made it a challenging time in the sport for riders and selectors alike. Great credit is due to the athletes and their teams for preparing their horses so well despite these difficulties.
“The team we have now selected is crammed full of athletes that have proven medal winning ability at European, World and Olympic level. I offer my congratulations to them, their support teams and their horse’s owners and look forward to working with them during the final push to the London Olympics.”
Kristina Cook said:
“I’m totally thrilled! With his past form Miner’s Frolic has proved he can do it but after his illness last year this is a dream come true. He nearly died of colitis 12 months ago so to come back to this level shows he’s a real fighter - that’s what pulled him through. He’s gone really well this season; his owners Sarah Pelham Nicholas and Valda Embiricos and I are very excited to get the opportunity to take him to London.
“It will be our second Olympics together, he’s kind and talented and we have a great partnership. Greenwich will be challenging but he’s a well bred horse, fast cross country but adjustable and polite which is important for those hills!”
William Fox-Pitt said:
“It’s a great honour and a privilege to be selected for the British team and particularly exciting as it’s on home ground. I can’t wait for the Games to get started; I’m sure the London Olympics will be an unbelievable experience.
It’s very exciting to be part of such a strong team and I’m particularly delighted for my long-time owners Judy and Jeremy Skinner.
“Lionheart is a phenomenal horse, an incredible athlete with a great temperament and he’ll be able to cope with Greenwich perfectly. I’m really looking forward to riding there; he’s only a ten year old but a very generous and talented horse. In my opinion he’s made for Greenwich.”
Piggy French said:
“I am overly excited and very relieved. It is what my team and I have been working towards over the last few years so it’s excellent to be getting this far; we just have to hope and pray that they stay in one piece to get there.
I have to say a massive thank you to my owners for their support; I wouldn’t have got to this stage without them.
“Obviously I am confident that ‘Topper’ will cope with the going there because of our experience at the test event but they are both amazing horses with different strengths. We will make a decision nearer the time based on who is feeling on the best form nearer the Games.”
Mary King said:
“It is such an honour to be selected to represent GB at what will be my sixth Olympic Games. It is a very strong team and I hope that they are the ones to help me complete my set of all three colours of medals!
“I am so pleased that ‘Archie’ will get the chance to compete at an Olympic Games, he so deserves this opportunity, as do his wonderful supportive owners, Edwin and Sue, and I am sure he will rise to the occasion. He is a big powerful horse which means he should be able to cope well with the undulations and be strong enough to handle galloping up and down those hills!”
Zara Phillips said:
“I’m so happy to be given this opportunity; my horse High Kingdom was full of running at his last event and has been improving all the time. We thought we’d have a chance after that performance but it was awesome to actually get the call. Now we can kick on to the Games and I just hope he keeps on getting better.
“When the London bid was announced Trevor Hemmings, one of my earliest supporters, suggested we go out and find a horse to get there. High Kingdom was that horse. You buy youngsters and it’s hard to see their full potential and know how far they’ll go it’s great to have another horse that can run at this level.
“High Kingdom is a pretty cool, relaxed kind of guy, he’s pony like, a nippy little jumper and easy to manoeuvre so hopefully it will suit him well in Greenwich. I have a lot of faith in him.”