Team GB strike equestrian gold in Tokyo

Credit: Team GB

Team GB claimed their first eventing team title in nearly half a century as Oliver Townend, Laura Collett and Tom McEwen struck equestrian gold in Tokyo.

British riders were perennial silver medallists in the competition, coming second in Los Angeles, Seoul, Sydney, Athens and London, plus claiming bronze in Beijing.

But after four days of competition, across dressage, cross country and jumping disciplines, they brilliantly held off the challenge of Australia and France in silver and bronze for their first title since 1972.

For Collett, riding London 52, just being in Tokyo was a staggering achievement in itself.

A heavy fall in 2013 left her with spine, shoulder and rib fractures, spending six days in a coma after her life was saved by the air jacket she was wearing.

Collett, 31, from Salperton, Gloucestershire, said:

“Just to be here was more than a dream come true and to be stood here winning a gold medal, it hasn’t sunk in.

“I look back and I think back to where I was eight years ago, I knew I was lucky to be alive, let alone able to 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.

“To top it off with a gold medal, I’m just super grateful to be on a team with these two guys as well.

“It’s been an unbelievable week, roll on the celebrations.”

And they may not be done yet. Heading into the individual competition later today, Townend – on Ballaghmor Class – is second overall with McEwen in third on Toledo De Kerser and Collett fifth.

Townend, 38, from Huddersfield, said:

“I didn’t know how much we had in hand so I put myself under a bit of pressure. 

“These two guys have made it very easy for me jumping such amazing rounds. Tom went in and nailed a clear round, Laura’s horse had a spook but she gave him a brilliant ride as always.

“We’re surrounded by classy horses and very classy people.

“It’s unreal, it hasn’t sunk in. We’ve got another round to jump so we’ll focus on that but there’ll be a big celebration – and I don’t think it’ll be with a cup of tea and a biscuit.”

Three-time Olympic champion Richard Meade was the last British rider to strike double eventing gold at the same Games when he won the team and individual title at Munich 1972.

McEwen, 30, from Minchinhampton, said:

“We’ve put in many, many hours to get to where we are now and it’s all paying off. All the work we’ve put in, we’ve come together as a great team this week and we know we’re on phenomenal horses.

“We’re super excited to have got the job done.”

Source: Team GB


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