GERMANY’s Julia Krajewski is new eventing Olympic champion and the first female to ever win the title.
The 32-year-old rose from silver to the gold medal position after a clear in the first round of show jumping. Last to go in the second round, she only had 3.7 penalties in hand over Britain’s Tom McEwen, but held her nerve to jump a beautiful clear round with the lovely 11-year-old French-bred mare Amande de B'Neville (Oscar Des Fontaines x Elan De La Cour), just one second over the time to complete on 26.0.
Tears of joy marked what has been a tough road to this victory for Krajewski, who bounced back from elimination at Rio five years ago, and earlier this year she retired her top horse Samourai Du Thot after he lost an eye. Julia also produced Michael Jung’s Tokyo horse Chipmunk FRH but lost the ride after the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Her father passed away earlier this year and she said he would be "truly proud" of her.
Julia described the moment as what dreams are made of, saying: “For some time I thought the Olympics would happen without me, and that was fine. Then going to Saumur CCI4*L and winning there, and feeling that ‘Mandy’ really stepped up a level and could deliver something big, I thought ‘maybe I’ve got a little chance of going’," adding, "well, it worked!"
McEwen took the silver medal with Toledo de Kerser, another French-bred by Diamant de Semilly, on a score of 29.3. They were 12th after dressage and moved up to sixth after cross-country with a classy clear. They moved up to bronze after a foot perfect first round clear, and again in the second round, just one second over.
Australia’s eight-time Olympian Andrew Hoy (62) won the individual bronze, moving up from seventh place after cross-country with the 12-year-old Jaguar Mail-sired Vassily de Lassos. Hoy adds the team silver and individual bronze to his three team golds won at Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.
It was almost a fairy tale finish for Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto who was just over two marks off the podium in fourth place with Vinci De La Vigne. A brilliant clear jumping second round (0.4 time penalties) saw him finish on 31.9. Tomoto, who is trained by British legend William Fox-Pitt, only started eventing five years ago with the Tokyo Games in mind.
Oliver Townend, who led overnight coming into the final phase had one down in the first round and then added a further 4.8 penalties when second last to go with the Irish Sport Horse Ballaghmor Class, who was bred by the late Noel Hickey. They finished fifth on 32.4. Two-time defending Olympic champion Michael Jung slipped to eighth place after four faults with Chipmunk FRH.
Ireland’s Austin O’Connor finished in 13th place after two great rounds of show jumping today with Colorado Blue. The pair picked up four faults in each round to finish on a score of 46.0. He held the yellow ribbon on his jacket after completing, as a mark of respect to the late Tiggy Hancock.
Speaking afterwards, O’Connor said: “I feel amazing. He is a phenomenal horse, this is his first Championships. I was drawn in at the very last minute so I was hanging on in there for the last five or six weeks which is a seriously difficult circumstance to be in.
"The bottom line is we both showed our professionalism and I hope I did everyone at home proud.”
Austin O'Connor and Colorado Blue \ Tomas Holcbecher
MORE TO FOLLOW AND FULL REPORT IN SATURDAY'S THE IRISH FIELD.