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This week has been an incredible week for Team GB. After winning double bronze in the Dressage we turned out attention to the Eventing. Which also turned out to be a huge success!
After the first two days of dressage all three British riders were disappointed with their scores, feeling like they could have done better. This was despite all three of them sitting in the top 12 with Oliver Townend sitting in 2nd with 23.6 penalties. Oliver was only beaten by the legendary Michael Jung!
I personally didn’t feel like the Cross Country was a huge test. The course itself seemed very doable and with over 50% of the combinations going clear it wasn’t the challenge we are used to seeing here in the UK. But the heat certainly made the time hard to get. Only 7 combinations made the time.
All three British riders made it home clear within the time, meaning they all sat in the top 6 after the Cross Country. They had a 4 fence lead going into the show jumping. The three Kiwi riders also all got round clear although none of them quite managed the time. Both of the Price’s were a few seconds over and Jesse Campbell’s horse picking up about 11 time penalties. Leaving them in 4th place on the team leader board.
Sadly there was a fatality. Swiss rider, Robin Godel’s horse Jet Set was sadly put down after an injury on the course. It sounds like they had jumped clear but suddenly pulled up quite lame. There was a long delay on the course while Jet Set was taken away in an ambulance and it sounded like everything was okay. But later the news came through that the hospital had found a ligament rupture and the decision was made to put him to sleep.
The first round of show jumping to decide the team medals was exciting but the leaders didn’t change. With so many fences in hand, team GB really did feel uncatchable. They finished the competition with just 86.30 penalties. Not only was this the first time in nearly 50 years that Great Britain has won Gold in Olympic Eventing, but it is also the lowest team score ever!
I also think it’s worth pointing out that as a team, they all come from fairly normal backgrounds. I feel that as a horsey person surrounded by non horsey friends and family, I am constantly explaining that most horse riders are not rich and from really privileged backgrounds. But it is hard to say the same for top riders. Both Oliver Townend and Laura Collett come from very normal backgrounds. This should make them more relateable to everyone.
The second round for the individual medals was very challenging. From the start the time seemed tight with many getting close to the time but few managing to stay clear or achieve the time. Eventually we did start to see a few clears within the time but there was plenty of changes to the order! After a few fences down, all three Brits finished in the top 9 with Tom McEwen getting one of the few clears to finish with 29.3 penalties, securing individual Silver!
Germany’s Julia Krajewski won Gold with just 26 penalties, becoming the first ever female Olympic Individual Gold medallist for Eventing. This in itself is incredible! For a sport where men and women compete equally with so many women at the top of the sport, it is incredible that it has taken this long for a woman to claim this title! So while it wasn’t a Brit or a Kiwi claiming Gold, I think we are all pleased to see the first woman win!