Skelton hails gold win 'greatest moment'

07 August 2012 / 09:58

Nick Skelton declared "it cannot get better than that" after he inspired Great Britain's brilliant showjumpers to Olympic glory and ended a 60-year wait for gold.

Skelton, 54, was not even born when the British equestrian team of Lieutenant Colonel Harry Llewellyn, Major Arthur Carr and Lieutenant Colonel Wilf White triumphed in Helsinki in 1952.

But the 2012 British quartet - Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles - enjoyed a spectacular 'extra-time' triumph against Holland at Greenwich Park that sent a capacity 23,000 crowd wild.

Tied after two rounds of a pulsating team competition, all four riders for each country then had to ride a shortened jump-off course against the clock, and it was the Dutch that cracked.

Britain's first Olympic showjumping medal of any colour since 1984 was in the bag once Charles and Vindicat emulated Skelton (Big Star) and Maher (Tripple X III) in going clear.

Liverpool-born Charles, who competed in two previous Olympics for Ireland before switching nationality, punched the air in triumph to spark unforgettable scenes of celebration and give British showjumping its finest hour.

It was a magnificent display under intense pressure as riders and horses were tested to the limit by the maritime-themed course of British designers Bob Ellis and Kelvin Bywater.

"It can't get better than that," said six-time Olympian Skelton, who like Charles, overcame a broken neck earlier in his career to regain a seat at showjumping's top table. "It was just brilliant. We had to get stuck in to the jump-off - I said to the guys we needed to go out there and win it.

"I've waited 54 years for this, so you can certainly say it was a long time coming. I've had a few misses in my time, but finally we got there.

"We lost it, we won it, we lost it and then finally we won it back. Without this crowd we could never have done it.

"People said that riding in an Olympics at home would add pressure, but it was totally the opposite. This has to be my greatest moment."