Team Great Britian Strike Gold And Silver In Olympic Eventing Competition
Monday, August 2, 2021
Posted by Martin Belam
Great Britain’s eventing team won gold in a dominant performance at Tokyo Equestrian Park before Tom McEwen added individual silver on Monday. The victory marks Team GB’s 11th gold medal of the 2020 Games, in an event they had not won since 1972.
Andrew Hoy led the Australian trio to team silver ahead of France, who won the competition in Rio in 2016. The 62-year-old, who first competed at the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984, then added an individual bronze medal, taking his all-time medal tally to six,becoming Australia’s oldest Olympic medallist. Germany’s Julia Krajewski became the first woman to win the individual Olympic gold medal.
The British trio of Oliver Townend, Laura Collett and McEwen had gone into the final round in a commanding lead, with Townend jumping last by dint of his lead in the individual standings. He missed out on an individual medal after incurring penalty points in his remaining two rounds. Nevertheless, he had said he expected there to be a big celebration after the team gold “and I don’t think it’ll be with a cup of tea and a biscuit”.
Speaking to the BBC after winning gold, Collett recalled the dramatic accident she had in competition eight years ago, which resulted in multiple fractures, a punctured lung, spinal injuries, losing some of the sight in one eye and being left in a coma for six days. She said: “Just to be here was more than a dream come true.
“I look back and I think where I was eight years ago. I knew I was lucky to even just be alive, let alone be able to come and do the job that I love, and be lucky enough to have a horse like London 52 to bring me to a place like Tokyo.”
First to jump in the team competition round was McEwen on Toledo De Kerser, who went clear. Collett took one fence down on her run, picking up four faults. Riding Ballaghmor Class, Townend was the last of the riders to go with a four-fence cushion provided he incurred no time penalties. He took down one fence to secure Britain’s victory.
Team GB ended up on 86.30 penalty points, well clear of Australia on 100.20 and France on 101.50, but Townend said he did not know how much he had in hand in the day’s first run. “I put myself under a bit of pressure, but that’s normal, but these two guys have made it very easy for me, jumping such amazing rounds.”
McEwen said: “We’ve put in many, many hours,and it’s all paying off, all the work we’ve put in. It’s been a super special experience. To get the gold with a record score has been phenomenal. I loved the pressure this week, I’ve loved being in this team and we’ve had to perform. To get that team gold after 49 years is really special.”
The team run had tantalisingly set up the possibility that all three Britons could secure an individual medal, but Collett put down two fences to pick up eight faults to put her out of contention. Townend incurred four faults and a time penalty and missed out having started the final round in silver-medal position. Instead, it was McEwen who earned his silver with a clear round, picking up 0.4 of a time penalty. Townend finished fifth, with Collett ninth. All three were making their Olympic debuts.
The gold for Team GB comes after years of tantalising near misses. Although they did not win a medal in Rio, British riders had won eventing team silver in Los Angeles, Seoul, Sydney, Athens and London, and bronze in Beijing. The 1972 team whose achievement they have emulated included Richard Meade, Mary Gordon-Watson, Bridget Parker and Mark Phillips.
Asked about his achievement in becoming Australia’s oldest medallist, Hoy said: “It is very, very special. We don’t come to these championships, especially Olympic Games, to finish in fourth, fifth or sixth. We only come to get a medal and look, it’s been a complete team effort.”
At the 2016 Olympics, British riders took two golds in the equestrian sports thanks to Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro winning the individual dressage and Nick Skelton on Gib Star in the individual Show-jumping. At these games they have doubled that haul, with the eventing gold and silver adding to the bronzes for Dujardin and the team in the dressage competition.
Townend showered the whole class of 2020 with praise. “They are such brilliant riders. I’m surrounded by class horses and very classy people.”
(Top Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images)