London 2012: Equestrian – Showjumping Gold for GB
Great Britain has won gold in the team showjumping at London 2012, amidst triumphant scenes at Greenwich Park.
The competition went down to the wire, after the original final team jumping round ended with Great Britain and the Netherlands tied with 8 penalty points. A jump off was required to separate them.
Early in the afternoon, Nick Skelton, who had jumped a double clear in both the first and second qualifying rounds, started Britain’s final team round and started it in style. He went clear once again and came in comfortably under the allowed course time limit of 88 seconds. His efforts on Big Star put him in a very strong position going into Wednesday’s final individual rounds.
Immediately after, Jur Vrieling of the Netherlands entered the arena aboard Bubalu. His round was not as successful, with three fences coming down and a total of 12 penalty points amassing.
As Sweden began to struggle, all eyes were on overnight leaders Saudi Arabia.
However, as they began to have fences down too, both the Netherlands and Great Britain upped their games.
Ben Maher was unlucky to have one fence down for Team GB, when a double clear was in sight. Nevertheless, a cool and collected Scott Brash got Hello Sanctos around with a double clear and put the home nation very much in the hunt for a gold medal.
With double clears from both Maikel van der Vleuten and Marc Houtzager, the Dutch piled on the pressure.
The final riders from each team were crucial: for Great Britain, Peter Charles, and for the Netherlands, Gerco Schroder. A clear from either would put their team in pole position.
Yet, it was not to be. Charles unluckily had the second last fence down, whilst Schroder, aboard the aptly named London, also had a bar down.
It meant that both teams were tied on 8 penalty points. A jump off would decide the gold. The four riders from each team would jump again and the best three scores would be counted. If scores were level, the quickest time would count.
Britain was guaranteed silver, but had an excellent chance of claiming an historic gold.
Skelton, who has broken his neck in the past, was first to take to the arena and was foot-perfect again. His time was very quick and although the first Dutch rider also went clear, his time was not as fast.
With a clear round from Ben Maher, Britain was in the box-seat and excitement began to build as van der Vleuten, the second Dutch rider, had two fences down. Gold was edging closer to Team GB.
There was to be another twist in the thrilling tale, though. Scott Brash had one fence down, which gave the Dutch another chance. However, they immediately had another fence down.
Britain’s final horse, Vindicat, ridden by Peter Charles, had a chance to create history for Team GB. They only had to jump clear to clinch gold for Great Britain.
Setting off at a steady pace, unlike the blistering rounds by the previous 6 riders, it was clear that Charles was going for that elusive clear round as opposed to a quick time. Calm and steady, Charles eased around the course and jumped clear in spectacular style.
As the crowd erupted, Britain claimed their first showjumping team gold in 60 years.
The Netherlands were a brave second, whilst Saudi Arabia put in an excellent effort to win a well deserved bronze.
Skelton has a chance to win another medal in the individual competition, which concludes on Wednesday. Britain also leads the standings in the team dressage competition in which GB’s Charlotte Dujardin is the current overall leader.
Image courtesy of msn.com