Anyone of a nervous disposition would have been advised not to watch the morning’s show jumping at the final day of the Eventing showjumping at Greenwich, with all its excitement, breath-holding and nail biting, which saw Team GB clinch a silver medal in a very close team competition.
Brits Nicola Wilson and Zara Phillips both had a fence down, while William Fox-Pitt gained a clear; but as the lowest placed of the Brits, his score didn’t count. Nicola Wilson was also consigned to the stands to support the top three in the final round.
William’s wife Alice, who attended the competition with the pair’s two sons, said she’d been frequently teary as the event had progressed, and was proud and priviledged to be a part of it all – she said the British Olympic Association had been integral in getting the British team’s families tickets for the events, something that was very much appreciated.
The leaders Sandra Auffarth and Michael Jung for Germany both went clear in the morning’s competition, leaving Tina Cook to keep a very cool, calm head as she battled against Mark Todd for New Zealand, for the silver medal. She went on to score one time penalty after Mark had a fence down, taking the Brits to second place behind Germany, always the hot favourites to win. “It’s brilliant to win silver – I am more excited than I look,” said a shell shocked Tina after the event, surely securing her position as a national treasure.
British favourite Mary King produced an impressive clear round in the team test, gamely congratulating the German team afterwards. “They deserved to win – they’ve done better than we have,” she said simply, after Tina’s foot perfect round.
Zara Phillips seemed glum after her one fence down. “I am disappointed – you want your team to be in the best position,” she said. However, with the individual medals still in contention, Zara needed instead to focus on this opportunity, being one of the 25 riders that would go through to the afternoon’s competition, including Mary and Tina.
The final set of jumps in the afternoon consisted of a 360 metre course, with 11 obstacles – the time to ride the course within started at 58 seconds, but was inexplicably increased to 60 secs, as the competition began.
11 nations with 25 riders contested the competition over a beautifully designed course that included the lovely Abbey Road Oxer, with its guitar wings and music notes fillers. Zara was first to go and gained 53.10 with a super round that raised the roof from the packed stands – yes, you read it right – today the seats were full!
Tina was next to go, currently in fourth place on 43.00, and within a fence of the top of the scoreboard; but she had two down in a competition that saw relatively few clear rounds. Tina finished on 51 penalties to rapturous applause. Mary King followed straight afterwards but also heartbreakingly had two fences down, taking her to overall fifth place individually – still a wonderful result. Again, the crowd went wild as their hero waved to the spectators.
The top five placed riders individually were World and European champion Germany’s Michael Jung riding Sam; Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Osholt riding her home bred Wega; Germany’s Sandra Auffarth riding Opgun Louvo; Andrew Nicholson for New Zealand riding Nereo – and the UK’s Mary King with Imperial Cavalier.
In summary, this has been a thrilling and exciting contest that for spectators, was everything an eventing competition should be – there were thrills, there were spills, there was close competition, and of course there was a fabulous home-ground venue with all the stops firmly pulled out. This Games has also helped raise the profile of eventing to the wider British audience, thanks mainly to Zara’s profile, which can only be a good thing…. and the fabulous TV coverage from the BBC really helped to draw in new enthusiasts, who reeled in horror at the sight of horses jumping off a bank and cantering down a twisty, steep hill!
And of course, this event has given the other equestrian athletes in our dressage and show jumping teams real promise that Team GB is a force to be reckoned with, and that they will have supreme levels of support here in London – so roll on the rest of the equestrian events, and good luck Team GB!
Final team standings:
Team gold GER 133.7
Team silver GB 138.2
Team bronze NZ 144.4
Final individual placings:
1. Sam (Michael Jung) GER 40.60
2. Wega (Sara Algotsson Ostholt) SWE 43.30
3. Opgun Louvo (Sandra Auffarth) GER 44.80
4. Nereo (Andrew Nicholson) NZL 49.00
5. Imperial Cavalier (Mary King) GBR 50.10
6. Miners Frolic (Tina Cook) GBR 51.00
7. Master Crusoe (Aoife Clark) IRL 52.50
8. High Kingdom (Zara Phillips) GBR 53.10
9. Mr Medicott (Karen O’Connor) USA 53.80
10. Clifton Promise (Jock Paget) NZL 53.90
Full results information on http://www.london2012.com/equestrian/event/eventing-team/phase=eqx403100/doc=results.html