58-Year-Old Equestrian Gold Medallist Nick Skelton Becomes Great Britain’s Oldest Olympic Champion Since 1908

Skelton and Big Star have enjoyed had a long and fruitful partnership, crowned with gold at Rio 2016 (Photo: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann)
Skelton and Big Star have enjoyed had a long and fruitful partnership, crowned with gold at Rio 2016 (Photo: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann)

In his seventh Olympic Games, Skelton rode Big Star to individual jumping glory in Deodoro

At the age of 58, Great Britain’s Nick Skelton has won an astonishing gold medal in individual jumping after a six-person jump-off at the Olympic Equestrian Centre on Friday (19 August).

Skelton is Britain’s oldest gold medallist since 1908, when Joshua Milner won a shooting gold in the London Games. He is the oldest medallist so far at Rio 2016 and the oldest medallist ever in Olympic equestrian history.

Skelton also won a gold medal in the 2012 London Games in the team event. His gold in individual jumping is his first medal in this event in his seventh attempt.

These are Skelton’s seventh Olympic Games: his career as an Olympian started at Seoul 1988. Along the way to Rio, he suffered a broken neck in 2000 and had a hip replaced in 2011.

On Friday, he turned in his third clean round of the day on trusty steed Big Star to hold off the event’s past two gold medallists. Skelton went first and finished the jump-off round Friday afternoon with a time of 42.82 seconds.

“I waited a long time. I felt like he (Big Star) was hard done by in London (missing out on an individual medal),” Skelton said after the event.

“I am so pleased with this horse. He won his last big competition at the grand prix in Aachen in 2013. There were several (health) problems and he took a long road back.”

Skelton’s is Britain’s second gold medallist in the equestrian events at Rio 2016. Charlotte Dujardin won gold in the individual dressage earlier this week.

Skelton told the BBC that Big Star “is the best horse I have ever seen. He’s an incredible horse, he knows what’s going on and knows when it is important.”

Skelton said he does not plan to go to Tokyo 2020, when Big Star will be 17 years old. “I’ll never have another horse as good as Big Star. I’ll be too old.”

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SOURCE: AP and RIO 2016