Olympics eventing: Britain win team silver behind Germany

 

Great Britain's eventers won Olympic silver behind Germany after a dramatic tussle with New Zealand.

Analysis

"The 17,000 damp spectators here ignored both old scores and wet weather to create one of the best atmospheres of the Games so far.

"But the form of Germany's world and European champion Michael Jung and his superstar mount Sam snuffed out GB team hopes before another faultless display in the afternoon gave him individual gold to match."

Holding a narrow lead over the Kiwis as the last riders prepared to go, Tina Cook sealed second place by collecting just one penalty.

Cook and team-mate Mary King just missed out on a second medal in the individual equestrian event as German Michael Jung celebrated double gold.

"Team silver is brilliant for our sport," Cook told BBC Sport.

Jung, celebrating his 30th brithday, went double-clear - no fences down, no time faults - twice in a row on Tuesday to help Germany win team gold and add the individual Olympic title to his World and European crowns.

He finished with a score of 40.60, beating Sara Algotsson Ostholt on 43.30. The Swede was bidding to become the first female Olympic individual eventing champion but dramatically knocked down the last fence to miss out on gold.

Britain's King (50.10) was fifth, with Cook (51.00) sixth and Zara Phillips (53.10) eighth after an impressive clear round.

Princess Royal awards GB eventing team medals

In the team event, Nicola Wilson and Phillips both had a fence down for GB as Sandra Auffarth and Jung went clear to retain the Olympic title for Germany by a distance.

At his seventh Olympics, Mark Todd had seven penalties in the first jumping round for New Zealand as their last rider to go. That handed Cook - a double bronze medallist at Beijing 2008 - vital breathing space.

Aboard Miners Frolic, the same horse with which she won those Beijing medals, Cook went clear and added one time penalty to help Britain home in second place with 138.20 in total, ahead of New Zealand's 144.40. Germany won gold with 133.70.

"The team had done so well, it was so close. We could have got silver or nothing and that would have been awful," Cook, 41, told BBC Sport. "Gold would have been brilliant, silver is fantastic."

Analysis

"Mary King was fantastic. Let's put into context her story. She's 51, at her sixth Olympics, but this is a woman who broke her neck in 2001 and is here now riding at the Olympics.

"Tina Cook's horse, Miners Frolic, had to have three blood transfusions only a year ago. And her father died in February this year. It's been an emotional time for her, but she has a brilliant ability to focus.

"Britain will be really proud of themselves."

Miners Frolic suffered a life-threatening illness last year, but, having been returned to full fitness, Cook called the performance that secured GB's medal "almost a fairytale".

"What can I say? The vets that kept him alive, the team at home, we got him here," she said. "It's been stressful but, when it comes to this and the crowd, it's unbelievable."

Team eventing sees five riders per nation compete in dressage, cross-country and jumping. Penalties are incurred for falls, time taken over the optimum or errors. The three best individual scores - the lowest number of penalties - for each nation are added up to form the team score.

Germany's performance was so strong that they had wrapped up the gold medal even before last rider Ingrid Klimke completed her round. Britain, however, went down to the wire in their battle with New Zealand.

Jung wins individual eventing gold

King, riding Imperial Cavalier, produced a clear round ahead of Cook as the pressure mounted, following a similarly impressive double-clear from New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson.

"There was a chance of overtaking the Germans but they have put in a great performance and deserve it," admitted King.

She said her horse, Imperial Cavalier, had been unsettled by a statue in the middle of the showjumping arena.

"I am disappointed with my fences down in the individual competition," said King.

"There is a big bronze lion in the centre of the arena and he got scared and was a bit whizzy. But then he settled and jumped beautifully."

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