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Skelton (58) battles back for glory and rules out retirement

By Andrew Baldock

great Britain's Nick Skelton has dismissed any immediate prospect of retirement after crowning a stellar showjumping career by winning Olympic individual gold at the age of 58.

Skelton's dazzling display in Deodoro on the brilliant 13-year-old bay stallion Big Star proved a spectacular triumph over adversity.

Not only has Skelton battled back from serious injury - a broken neck 16 years ago, persistent chronic back pain and a hip replacement - but Big Star has also returned to showjumping's biggest stage following injuries that beset him since Skelton's Olympic team gold at London 2012.

Warwickshire-based Skelton collected Britain's first individual showjumping gold medal in Olympic history - it was also a first British individual medal of any colour since Ann Moore took silver at Munich 44 years ago - and came following a thrilling jump-off.

Additionally, he became the oldest Olympic champion in any equestrian sport, eclipsing German Klaus Balkenhol, who won dressage team gold in Atlanta 20 years ago, aged 56.

Skelton, who had jumped two clear rounds earlier in the day to be among six combinations that raced against the clock, posted a time of 42.82 seconds, and no-one else could touch him, including London 2012 individual champion Steve Guerdat and highly-fancied American Kent Farrington, who both had the first fence down.

Skelton, competing in his seventh Olympics, won by more than half a second from silver medallist Peder Fredricson, of Sweden, and Canada's 2008 Olympic gold medallist Eric Lamaze.

"I am not going to stop now," said Skelton, who has won 16 major championship medals, including two Olympic golds.

"I only ride Big Star at the moment. When he stops, I will stop. For definite.

"I have been in the sport a long time. I am so happy - it was amazing."

Belfast Telegraph


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