Nick Skelton Wins Great Britain’s First Individual Show Jumping Olympic Gold

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With the team competition behind them, the top 35 riders returned today to compete for the individual show jumping medals, the last medals of the equestrian events at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Their faults from previous rounds did not carry over, so everyone started with a zero score.

Lucy Davis and Barron have been stellar in their Olympic debut, but today was not their day. Two rails down and a foot in the water left them with 12 penalties—not good enough to return for the final round.

McLain Ward’s mount, Azur, still looked fresh and ready to fly, but an unfortunate rub on the last of a triple combination dropped one rail for four faults on their score. That was good enough to progress to the final round, although with quite a few double clear rounds already posted, it would be an uphill battle to the podium.

Arguably the team’s MVP, Kent Farrington and Voyeur started today having only racked up a single time fault during all of the previous rounds. There were a couple of rubs today, but the rails stayed up keeping Farrington and his Dutch gelding in medal contention.

Round B: The Final Round

For Round B, the 27 horse-and-rider pairs who had finished with four faults or fewer in this morning’s round came back to ride over a new course. With 13 riders bringing forward zero faults and two with just one fault, the pressure was on.

It’s been a long week for these horses and riders, and conquering a second big course in a single day is a tall order. Portugal’s Luciana Diniz and Fit for Fun 13 were the first to go and they went double clear to maintain their four fault score. But after that it would be another 8 rides before anyone repeated that feat.

That next clear came from McLain Ward and Azur. Azur’s big jump worked well over the big, airy course, and Ward wasted no time, finishing with a second or two to spare and adding no faults to their four from the earlier round.

Great Britain’s Nick Skelton, who was part of the gold-medal-winning show jumping team from the 2012 London Olympics, was the first of the zero-faulters from the first round to come back and go double clear in the second. His round with Big Star didn’t guarantee gold as any ties in the top three would result in a jump-off to determine the medals.

Sure enough, when 2012 individual gold medalist Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets (also his 2012 Olympic partner) took to the course, they went at blazing speed but managed to stay clear, joining the jump off for gold.

Next, Sheikh Ali Al Thani, in his Olympic debut with First Devision for Qatar, took the third spot in the jump off, squeaking in a double clear with just six one-hundredths of a second to spare. With three in the jump off, anyone with a fault or more would now be off the podium. But there were still six to go.

Kent Farrington either has ice running through his veins, or a world-class poker face. In either case, he piloted the still-spunky Voyeur to another double clear round and made it look easy.

They were joined by Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and All In, and by 2008 individual gold medalist, Eric Lamaze of Canada with Fine Lady 5 for a total of six riders returning for a shortened course for the final jump off.

The Jump-off: The Final Final Round

First in the jump off, Nick Skelton and Big Star put the pressure on with a clear round and a finish of 42.82 seconds.

Steve Guerdat took out a rail on the first fence, quickly ending his chance at gold, but he continued to end at 43.08 in hopes of another medal.

Sheikh Ali Al Thani dropped a rail mid course and another on the final fence, but he fnished with a smile and a pat for his horse, First Devision, at the end of their remarkable Olympic debut.

Voyeur practically pranced into the ring, still looking full of vigor. But he and Kent Farrington dropped rails at the first and last fence for eight faults, ending their Olympic debut and guaranteeing a medal for Nick Skelton with just two riders to go.

Peder Fredricson and All In went clear but just a bit slower than Skelton to guarantee a medal. Which medal it would be depended on Eric Lamaze, the final rider in the jump off. When Lamaze’s hores, Fine Lady 5, dropped a single rail, he put himself in bronze position and gave Fredricson the silver.

With this, 58-year-old Skelton wins his first-ever Olympic individual gold, which also happens to be Great Britain’s first individual gold in show jumping.

Olympic Show Jumping Results

With the completion of show jumping, equestrian competition from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has concluded. If you can’t get enough, the show jumping round for the women’s Modern Pentathlon takes place today at 2:30 p.m. ET and the men’s will be tomorrow, August 20, at 2:30 p.m. Both will be aired on the NBCOlympics.com live stream.

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