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Showjumping gold medal for Nick Skelton on Big Star

Published 19/08/2016

Great Britain's Nick Skelton took gold medal on Big Star in the individual showjumping at the Olympic Equestrian Centre. Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's Nick Skelton took gold medal on Big Star in the individual showjumping at the Olympic Equestrian Centre. Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Great Britain's Nick Skelton has won a gold medal on Big Star in the individual showjumping at the Rio Olympics.

The 58-year-old's triumph takes Team GB's gold medal tally up to 23 and the total medals won to 57, with 21 silver and 13 bronze.

Skelton was part of the team that won the team jumping gold at London 2012 on his sixth Olympic appearance.

His selection for Rio 2016 means he has competed at more Olympic Games than any other Team GB athlete.

After a serious neck injury forced him into a first retirement in 2000, he returned to equestrianism in 2002 and has since received an OBE for services to the sport.

He also broke the British record for highest fence jumped when he conquered a 7ft 7ins obstacle at Olympia in 1978.

Speaking to the BBC, Skelton said: "It is unbelievable. I am speechless for once. The horse was amazing today. He has been really unlucky the last few days.

"But I did it the other way round in London, it didn't pay off. Justice has been done for him today, and he deserves it. He has been incredible.

"It has been a hard road because he hasn't been sound. Today was a good day to win. Everybody has worked towards getting this horse back on the road - it is amazing."

He added that injury had made the last three years tough for both him and the horse.

Speaking of Big Star, he continued: "He is an incredible horse, he knows exactly what is going on. He knows the day, he knows when it is really important."

Asked if he would be returning for an eighth Olympics, Skelton said "I don't think so", adding that he and his horse would be too old by 2020.

In the boxing ring, Joe Joyce ensured that Team GB would add at least another silver medal to its total, after winning his semi-final against Kazakhstan's Ivan Dychko at Rio Centro.

In the final Joyce will will fight for super-heavyweight gold against Frenchman Tony Yoka, who came through the other semi-final via split decision.

Skelton said winning gold had "capped" his career and that the achievement had been "emotional" for everyone in his team.

He continued: "My groom has been with me for 31 years but if you see how many hours he spends with my horse you'd be amazed. He only looks after that one horse and he's with him nine hours a day constantly.

"I always knew in the back of my mind that I could do it. He is an absolutely amazing horse. You can trust him, he wants to do it and he has all the right attributes. For me he's the best horse I've had and will ever have.

"I'm so pleased for (Big Star) today because he's worked hard. We've done a lot of work with him and we've slowly been bringing him back. Today he really came good for me."

Speaking of what happens next, the Olympian added: "I'm not going to stop now. I only ride Big Star and I've ridden him all year. When he stops, I'll stop for definite."

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