Seven Games veteran Nick Skelton takes Britain's first individual showjumping gold
Rio 2016

Seven Games veteran Nick Skelton takes Britain's first individual showjumping gold

19 August 2016 / 19:12

Nick Skelton became Team GB's oldest Olympic medallist since 1912 as he took a dramatic individual showjumping title – Britain’s first gold in the event and first medal for 44 years.

Skelton, 58, triumphed in a six-man jump-off after going clear in two straight final rounds to take his second gold medal in his seventh Olympic Games, the Brit a winner of team gold at London 2012.

He stopped the clock after a clear jump-off round in 42.82 seconds riding Big Star, over half a second faster than Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, who was the only other rider to go clear. Having jumped first, Skelton had to sit and watch as his rivals were unable to beat his round.

“This has really capped my career I’ve been in the sport a long time and to win this now at my age is amazing," he said. "I’ve always wanted to do this – I nearly did it in London. I’ve had European medals and world medals, but to win this is pretty emotional for all concerned in my team.

"My groom has been with me for 31 years but if you see how many hours he spends with my horse you’d be amazed. He only looks after that one horse and he’s with him nine hours a day constantly, so this is for him as well."

Skelton was one of 13 riders to jump clear in the first round of jumping on Friday, but only six repeated the feat on a tricky afternoon course.
Nick Skelton riding at Rio 2016

London 2012 champion Steve Guerdat was one of the five other riders to make the jump-off, but one knocked fence to finish outside the medals.

Canada's Eric Lamaze went into the jump-off having not knocked down a pole all week, but his early mistake handed Skelton the historic gold.

"I was first to go and I thought that I had to go as fast as I could but be safe," he added. "I didn’t have to take too many risks because he’s a fast horse anyway. I knew I had to go clear because it then puts a bit of pressure on everybody else.

"I always knew in the back of my mind that I could do it. He is an absolutely amazing horse. You can trust him, he wants to do it and he has all the right attributes. For me he’s the best horse I’ve had and will ever have.

"I’m so pleased for [Big Star] today because he’s worked hard. We’ve done a lot of work with him and we’ve slowly been bringing him back. Today he really came good for me."

Britain's other competitor Ben Maher made it through to the afternoon session with four penalties, but 13 penalties in the second round saw him finish 25th.

Rio 2016