A faultless performance9th August 2012
After the ecstasy of winning Gold in the Team Show Jumping earlier in the week; yesterday I was lucky enough to be at a stunning Greenwich Park for the Individual finals, with high hopes for Team GB’s Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Nick Skelton.
The sun shone down over Bob Ellis’ towering course, which depicted some of the UK’s most iconic landmarks from Stonehenge to Abbey Road. The first round included a refusal, a dip in the water and some unlucky time faults – one just 0.02 seconds! Six of the 37 horses and riders went clear including both Brash and Skelton, who jumped last. You could have heard a pin drop.
A remarkable course change later and again in reverse order, 22 horses and riders jumped again, desperately hoping not to add to their penalties. After an anxious wait, two exhilarating performances from Team GB and a huge roar from the sea of union jacks; our last chance for a medal came with Nick Skelton and Big Star.
With every fence came an audible intake of breath from the 50,000-strong crowd. Just three fences from the end, the Cutty Sark was to be our downfall. The tiniest touch resulted in four faults and crushing disappointment; immediately replaced by a massive cheer and standing ovation – the pride of the nation overwhelming.
With Switzerland taking gold for the first time in 88 years, a dramatic jump-off gave Netherlands the silver with just one fault and Ireland took bronze with the last fence down – their first medal of the Olympics.
After six remarkably-successful mexican waves and the medal ceremony, smiles on everyone’s faces and the sun still shining, it was time go home.