Tokyo Olympics: Ben Maher wins gold in individual showjumping

Great Britain's Ben Maher won individual showjumping gold on Explosion W after a dramatic six-horse jump-off at the Tokyo Olympics.

Maher, 38, completed his clear round in 37.85 seconds to pip Sweden's Peder Fredricson by 17-hundredths of a second.

The Netherlands' Maikel van der Vleuten finished third.

It is a second Olympic medal for Maher after winning gold in the team jumping event at London 2012.

After qualifying for the final in top spot, Maher watched all 29 other competitors complete their rounds before jumping the course clear in the third-fastest time to reach the jump-off.

It is the second of GB's golds and fifth medal overall in equestrian - after gold for the eventing team, Tom McEwan's individual silver, plus team dressage bronze and Charlotte Dujardin's historic individual dressage bronze - equalling GB's best ever-medal tally in equestrian at London 2012.

Maher succeeds Nick Skelton, who won the individual event with Big Star five years ago.

Fellow Britons Harry Charles and Scott Brash failed to win a medal.

Brash produced an immaculate round riding Hello Jefferson, but one time fault ended their medal chances.

Charles had four fences down on Romeo 88 and retired just before the end of his round.

The course at Equestrian Park, which proved difficult for even the most experienced riders, saw world number one Daniel Deusser of Germany fail to reach the jump-off, along with Switzerland's Martin Fuchs.

The jumping team finals take place on Saturday, 7 August, after qualifying on Friday.

'He grew wings for me'

Maher, who had major back surgery in 2020, has competed in four Olympics, with a best previous result in the individual event of ninth at London 2012.

That was on board Tripple X - but in 12-year-old horse Explosion W, who Maher has been paired with since 2018, he found the winning combination.

Explosion W was called the best jumping horse in the world leading up to the Games and Maher, a former world number one, joked that he felt so in sync with the horse that he was sure he would be able to make his breakfast for him.

Maher said after his victory: "He grew wings for me - he's a real athlete, he's not a normal horse.

"He is like lightning - I took a big risk across the middle section and normally we read each others mind. We're very in sync and he did question me there, I felt a slight hesitation.

"But that's what sets him apart from the other horses. A little bit of luck is always involved, but it was incredible.

"I'm getting married in a couple of weeks and that makes this all the more special - but my fiancee knows she has to share me with Explosion.

"I don't know what was more pressure - this or getting married.

"It crossed my mind that it will be a very good party if something went right this week. We can look forward to that now.

"I managed to get an hour out to go and get my suit, and did half a day with Sophie to try and be a bit involved.

"I rang home after it finished here, but there was a lot of screaming and crying. I couldn't hear them."

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