BRITAIN have won the team gold medal in eventing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The team of Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class (ISH)), Laura Collett (London 52) and Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser) - who were all making their Olympic debut - won with over three fences in hand on a final score of 86.3 after a fantastic show jumping performance at the Baji Keon Equestrian Park today.
This brings the British tally of Olympic eventing team gold to four which puts them on level pegging with Australia and the USA. Their last win was at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
Australia took the silver medal, ahead of the 2016 champions France who claimed bronze. Surpringly, despite three clear rounds on the final day, Germany finished off the podium in fourth place (114.2), ahead of New Zealand who slipped to fifth (116.4).
Ireland added 16 penalties in total in the final phase to finish eighth on a total of 177 penalty points. Austin O’Connor has made it through to the final individual round of show jumping in 18th place after finishing his show jumping round with four faults.
Sarah Ennis and Woodcourt Garrison finished their first Olympic campaign in 36th place on a total score of 79.7 after picking up four faults at the first part of the tricky treble combination. Sam Watson faulted twice – at the middle part of the combination and the first part of the tricky double of verticles – with Tullabeg Flamenco to finish on a score of 55.3 in 30th place.
With a comprehensive lead after cross-country, Tom McEwen got the British team off to a perfect clear round with text book riding over Santiago Varela’s 1.25m track with the 14-year-old gelding Toledo de Kerser.
Australia kept up the pressure with a clear from Kevin McNab (Don Quidam), and Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold) only added a time fault to keep French hopes of a podium finish alive.
The next line of riders for the top three nations all had four faults. Laura Collett’s London 52 backed off the oxer at 4 and paddled through it, but they recovered and added nothing else to keep Britain’s gold medal position.
Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser for Britain \ Sportsfile
France’s Karim Florent Laghouag picked up four faults with Triton Fontaine and so too did Shane Rose with Virgil. In the final line riders, France’s Christopher Six was foot perfect with Totem De Brecey to heap the pressure on Australia’s Andrew Hoy who had just 1.3 of a penalty advantage.
However, it was no bother to the eight-time Olympian who never looked like touching a fence with the brilliant Vassily De Lassos to secure the silver medal for his team.
Oliver Townend was last into the arena with the Courage II-sired 14-year-old gelding Ballaghmor Class, bred by the late Noel Hickey in Co Limerick. Barring a disaster, the gold medal was already secured at that stage, but Townend also had his individual lead to think of. One mistake at the tricky double towards the end of the course saw them finish on four faults, securing team gold by a huge margin of 13.9 penalty points.
Speaking afterwards, 31-year-old Laura Collett said: “I’m a little bit lost for words. Even just being here at an Olympics is a dream come true, let alone to win a gold medal. It’s going to take a few days, weeks or months probably for this to sink in. It’s been an unbelievable team experience."
Germany had put the pressure on the rest with three perfect clears from Sandra Auffarth (Viamant Du Matz), Michael Jung (Chipmunk FRH) and Julia Krajewski (Amande De d’Neville), but they were too far behind after cross-country so had to settle for fourth in the end.
However, Krajewski went on to secure the individual gold medal on a winning score of 26.0. Tom McEwen took the silver, ahead of eight-time 62-year-old Australian Andrew Hoy.
MORE TO FOLLOW.