Equestrianism: Great Britain win gold in team show jumping
Great Britain won the gold medal in the team show jumping for the first time since 1952 after coming through a tense jump-off against the Netherlands at Greenwich Park.
The Saudi Arabia team, who would eventually take bronze, led going into the final round but, with eight teams covered by four faults margins of error were wafer thin but the opposition had been thinned out with Germany, France and Belgium already out of the competition.
Nick Skelton was competing in his sixth Games and brought that vast experience to bear as he went clear on Big Star while Ben Maher kept Britain firmly in contention with just four faults on Triple X.
Next in was 26-year-old Scott Brash riding Hello Sanctos, a horse who had been bought with a day like this in mind. And it was looking money well spent when, despite traversing the water with less than an inch to spare and give the last element of the treble a rattle, they delivered a precious clear round.
The Netherlands were right on Britain’s tail, with a possible 12 faults, after three of their four riders had jumped while Britain stood on eight faults.
That left the pressure round for Britain to Peter Charles and Vindicat. The 52-year-old, who was riding in his third Games after representing Ireland twice, had five faults which meant Gerco Schroder had the chance to win the gold for the Netherlands with the appropriately named London, but four faults meant that the two teams had to go again in a nail-biting jump-off on a different configuration, with the best three of the four scores to count.
Skelton, whose career was thought to be over when he broke his neck in 2000, led the way with a clear round which was then matched by Jur Vrieling on Bubalu. Maher turned up the heat with a cleared before Maikel van der Vleuten and Verdi had eight faults.
Brash, riding in his first Games, took a chance at the second fence and paid the price but four faults gave Britain the edge, the possibility that times could finally decide the gold medal. Marc Houtzager and Tanmino had looked to be the best Dutch pair through the competition but he had the penultimate fence down and that meant Charles was left to go for the clear round and forget the time or try to strike a balance with four faults and a fast time.
Coming to the final double he needed the three jumps of his life. Vindicat cleared that and then galloped to the last, the Tower Bridge fence. Vindicat jumped like he was trying to clear the real thing as Britain’s dream of a first gold in 60 years became reality.
The last time Britain won medal of any description was a team silver in Los Angeles in 1984. Skelton missed that Games because of his professional status (the rule was changed in 1987) but rode Maybe at the Alternative Games in Rotterdam, when equestrian teams had boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games of 1980, and won a team silver.
The 54-year-old admitted that he was more nervous watching his teammates than riding himself. “I wish I could have gone four times,” he said. “They've done great, the lads have done great. Absolutely brilliant. I've got a wonderful horse, wonderful owners, it's a dream come true.”
Skelton will now attempt a second gold with Big Star in the individual event, on Wednesday.
Today at the Games
Kenny sprints to gold medal as Pendleton powers on
Félix Sánchez turns back the clock in 400 metres
Anthony Joshua shows his mettle to earn medal
Brabants just makes it into final
China's Xu Lijia pips rivals to Laser Radial gold
Japan to play the United States in Olympic final
GB women make hockey semi-finals
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