Tokyo, Japan – Great Britain claimed the Eventing team gold in convincing style at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Baji Koen tonight where Australia took silver and France the bronze.
In a gripping contest British pathfinder, Tom McEwen, led the way with a brilliant clear from Toledo de Kresker, but there was a heart-stopping moment when Laura Collett’s London 52 took fright at the light shining on the water-tray under fence four. The horse froze in the air and scattered poles everywhere but the pair made a brilliant recovery to finish with just four faults on the board.
So when Oliver Townend’s Ballaghmor Class hit only the first element of the bogey-double at nine and left all the rest standing, Team GB claimed the top step of the medal podium by a margin of 13.9 penalties, on a final tally of just 86.30.
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.
Shane Rose was the only member of the veteran Australian side to hit a fence tonight, picking up four faults with Virgil at the double four from home. Clears from Kevin McNab (Don Quidam) and Andrew Hoy (Vasilly de Lassos) brought their final scoreline to 100.20 while Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold), Karim Florent Laghouag (Triton Fontaine) and Christopher Six (Totem de Brecey) were close behind in bronze on 101.50.
Germany’s Julia Krajewski became the first woman in the history of equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games to win Individual gold. Leading the way into the top-25 medal-decider tonight the 32-year-old athlete kept her nerve under incredible pressure to produce her second clear round of the evening with her mare Amande De B’Neville.
In a mighty battle that saw many of the leading pack wilting in the closing stages, it was Australia’s Andrew Hoy, fourth-last to go, who set the standard when producing yet another clear round from his fabulous 12-year-old chestnut gelding Vassily de Lassos. He had already collected team silver earlier in the evening and once again the 62-year-old legend showed them all how it should be done.
Great Britain’s Tom McEwen was lying in bronze medal spot with Toledo de Kresker and the 30-year-old rider followed suit with a really classy round to ensure he would land somewhere on the medal podium.
Lying in silver medal position, his team-mate Olivier Townend’s 14-year-old grey gelding Ballaghmor Class hit the second fence, however, and when they also picked up time penalties their Individual medal chances slipped away. But Krajewski never looked like touching a pole, and she punched the air and burst into tears of delight when she realized Olympic gold was hers when galloping through the finish.
It was a fairytale ending for the athlete whose Olympic dream seemed to be shattered when her top horse, Samourai du Thot, was retired from the sport this spring after having an eye removed due to a persistent infection. But her 12-year-old mare, whose stable name is Mandy, stepped up to present her with a life-changing golden moment.
McEwen took the silver and Hoy the bronze on a night to remember.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Andrew HOY (AUS) – silver
On managing the temperatures during the eventing competition:
“Advice on how to cope with the heat and the temperatures has been excellent. I was here for the test event in 2019, it was very good then, it’s even better now, and so the technology is fantastic. I also have a horse who is almost bred for warmer climates, so I’m very lucky in that respect.”
“When I was stopped on the cross country course yesterday, as soon as I started walking, I could feel the heat coming up off the horse, and so I asked the steward, ‘Can I have some water for the horse to cool’. I was taken about 100 metres to a small tent, where there was a very big plastic container, full of water with big ice blocks. Shane (teammate Shane ROSE, AUS) gets the gold medal for athletics, running from the finish to also assist me. But there were very good people there.”
On Tokyo 2020 taking place:
“The Japanese people, the country of Japan and the city of Tokyo, to put these Olympic Games on, they need a gold medal for it. Because we all understand the difficulties and the implications of Covid-19. There’s not one athlete at these Olympic Games that didn’t want it to happen. And so they’ve had challenges to make it happen, but it’s thank you to the Japanese people.”
Nicolas TOUZAINT (FRA) – bronze
On winning a medal, his first since Athens 2004:
“Well, I feel happy, and I’m really pleased to be here today. I think that this is a real opportunity, to be in my sixth Olympic Games. It’s my second medal only, and it’s not always easy to get an Olympic medal. I’m really proud of what we achieved, and very satisfied at the result. I was very proud of my horse, and I think a lot of him. He was exemplary in the two rounds (showjumping on Monday), so I’m really happy with the result, and happy to have a horse like that.”
Julia KRAJEWSKI (GER) – gold
On her performance:
“I’ve really benefited from the massive trust that I have in my horse. AMANDE (DE B’NEVILLE, GER) did such a good job, and I tried. I tried to imagine that I’m at home training under the floodlights, which I really enjoy doing. I said to AMANDE, ‘we’re going to rock it now’, and I had the feeling that she really knew it was special. She gave it that extra bit today.”
On reflecting on Olympic Games Tokyo 2020:
“It will definitely take some time until it sinks in. I feel proud, relief in a way. And it was a massive experience. Everybody said, ‘Tokyo is going to be a special Olympics’. Now, it will be extra, extra special for me forever.”
Andrew HOY (AUS) – bronze
On staying motivated:
“It comes from the heart. I love working with horses, and I’m always wanting to be better at what I do. And it’s not about setting records. It’s nothing in relation to age. It’s something that I have a passion for, and I pick it up and run with it. Any young person that is either watching this or has a passion, they have to pick up, they have to run with it, and they have to place good people around them.”
“My father said to me when I was really young, ‘If you want to be good, make sure you place good people around you’. He started as an engineer. I started farming, I studied farming, I was destined to be a farmer in Australia. And I started riding horses as a hobby. Because I had the passion for both the horses and the farming, my days were starting at four o’clock in the morning and finishing at 11 o’clock at night.”
“I made a decision in 1992, after I first won a gold medal in the team competition in Barcelona, (that) I need to do one or the other. I thought I can always go back to farming. I didn’t quite realise I’d be going this long, and be living in the United Kingdom.”
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