Team medals decided at a tense Greenwich final | An Eventful Life

Team medals decided at a tense Greenwich final


I’ll admit it, the rules concerning the show jumping at the Games are a little confusing, so I will leave it to the London 2012 website to explain the format for today:

“The third round is the second round of Team competition and third Individual qualifying competition. The final placings for the Team event are determined by the sum of the scores in the first and second round. After the third round, the best 35 riders progress to the fourth and fifth rounds [for individual placings).”

In terms of Australian hopes, at the start of play today at the third qualifying Olympic show jumping competition at Greenwich, James Paterson Robinson and Julia Hargreaves had eight penalties, Matt Williams had 12, and Edwina Tops Alexander was riding high with zero penalties. The sun was shining, the crowd was in fine spirits, and an exciting day would unfold.

In the first round, Edwina and Julia both gained one knock down to gain four penalties each, riding classy and careful rounds – this left Julia on 13 and Edwina on four, the latter in joint second place. These fences are high and technical, and many riders had the misfortune of knocking a top rail! James was less fortunate and had three knock downs, leaving him on 13 faults.

The first Saudi rider of the day contesting their lead was Prince Abdullah Al Saud, riding Davos – he knocked down the second element of the double, one of only a few errors in what has been a series of excellent rounds from the Saudis, a relatively young jumping nation, who went onto medal as a team.

Eventual bronze medallists, the Saudis.

Eric Lamaze for Canada rode a sterling round with Derly Chin De Muze. Despite rapping the triple, he looked set to go clear before knocking a fence – I think we were all rooting for him after his nation’s somewhat disappointing Games so far – one eventer hospitalised, and a show jumper disqualified. It wasn’t going to be the Canadians on the jumping podium on this occasion however, as they could now only achieve 22 points.

Jose Roberto Reynoso Fernandez Filho (pity his impatient bride at the altar) was super unlucky, when the top of the penultimate fence inexplicably fell before he jumped it – the fence was reset, but the Brazilian knocked it down anyway, to sympathetic ‘oohs’ from the crowd.

The Brits were on fire today, with Olympic newbie Scott Brash putting in a good clear round on Hello Sanctos, and Nick Skelton with Big Star seeming determined to bag a gold. As the poles flew and the top nations stayed in the game, the tension was mounting as the final eight riders were narrowed down; Britain and the Netherlands were fighting it out for the top spot.

With eight points each, it was a tense final round that saw the home crowd rather unsportingly let out a little cheer when Dutchman Gerco Schroder knocked a fence. You could have heard a pin drop as it went to the knuckle, with the two nations finally jumping off against the clock.

The Dutch team go on to take silver.

With Under Pressure by Queen helpfully playing in the background, the excitement mounted as the jump off course was built. Nick Skelton and Ben Maher for Britain went clear, while Scott Brash knocked a fence – with Mikael van der Vleuten and Marc Houtzager both having fences down, it was down to Britain’s Peter Charles to ride clear, which he did to rapturous applause. The end result? Britain won gold, the Netherlands silver and the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia bronze – a tightly fought contest that saw Britain win its first showjumping gold in sixty years.

“This was the best day of my life, and probably all of our lives – it can’t get better than that. I was over the moon on that podium,” said Briton Scott Brash.

Well done to all of the nations! The action concludes with the individual show jumping competition on Wednesday.

The Brits take team gold.