London 2012: 20th Gold for Great Britain
Great Britain’s equestrian team has won the gold medal in the team dressage competition of London 2012. It puts Britain’s gold medal tally onto 20, surpassing the Beijing total of 19. These London Olympics are now officially the most successful for the nation since 1908. It is the second team equestrian medal for Great Britain in as many days, after Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles won team gold in yesterday’s showjumping.
Team GB were harbouring a slight lead coming into today’s Grand Prix Special, with an overall score of 79.407% over Germany’s 78.845%. The Netherlands were not too far behind in third on 76.809%. A good, solid start with the first of each country’s three riders would be absolutely essential in this final team stage.
It was Carl Hester’s test aboard Uthopia that cemented Britain’s position at the top of the leaderboard. Following a routine packed with accurate transitions and wonderfully powerful walk, trot and canter extensions, it was no surprise that Hester’s score surpassed the 80% mark. Finishing on 80.571%, the 45 year-old shot straight into the individual lead and continues to improve as the competition progresses. Uthopia, a lovely strong individual, would be one of the best horses Hester has ever had.
With the competition progressing, it soon became clear that there were two teams beginning to pull clear of the rest. As with the three-day eventing earlier on in these Olympic Games, Britain’s nearest challengers appeared to be Germany. In the highly experienced and very popular Dorothee Schneider, as well as the young and talented Kristina Sprehe, the Germans looked set to get off to a flying start in this Grand Prix Special.
Indeed they did, as Schneider’s competent performance scored her 77.571% and briefly put her second in the individual standings.
However, after a few slight mistakes, Sprehe’s effort scored 76.254%. Although still highly respectable, it gave Britain more breathing space.
Laura Bechtolscheimer was the second rider for Team GB and her performance was calm and confident, earning her a percentage of 77.794. She had increased Britain’s lead ever so slightly.
As ever, the final two team riders would be crucial, but Great Britain had their fingers stroking the gold medal. Helen Langehanenberg held her composure for Germany and secured 78.937%, which kept Germany in with a shout.
Yet, Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, who was the leader after the Grand Prix stage thanks to an exceptional score of 83.663%, was still to go for Britain. She repeated her superb performance from last week and scored 83.286%. Upon completing, the Greenwich Park crowd were aware of the golden situation and broke into delighted cheers and applause.That test clinched gold for Team GB, confirming the up-and-coming promise of this classy dressage team.
More equestrian medals could be won by Great Britain, with individual competitions still to come in both the showjumping and the dressage. Dujardin will be the overall individual leader after today’s tests, with Carl Hester currently in third. Adelinde Cornelissen had an excellent test and scored 81.984%, which also gave the Netherlands the team bronze medal.
Image courtesy of The Guardian.