Great Britain added a pair of rails to its score on the final day of eventing competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The team could have had three more and still come away with gold.
Now that’s dominance.
The Great Britain Olympic eventing squad—consisting of Tom McEwen, Laura Collett and World No. Oliver Townend—had limited pressure in the jumping phase Monday evening in Tokyo after a perfect cross-country phase in which not a single penalty point was added to the group’s 78.30 dressage score. The team entered the final phase with a 17.8-point cushion and finished 13.9 points in front to claim the country’s first eventing gold since 1972. Their final score was just 86.3 penalty points.
It was a much closer race for silver and bronze, but Australia and France would ultimately maintain their positions after cross-country. Australia was second-best with a score of 100.2, with defending gold medalists France taking bronze on 101.5—the difference between them translating to seconds.
Team USA, sitting fifth after cross-country, could not make up ground and settled for sixth. Boyd Martin (Tsetserleg) and Doug Payne (Vandiver) added a rail each to their score, while Phillip Dutton (Z) had two rails fall on course. After a taxing cross-country phase in which the team moved up three positions, their momentum faded.
“In hindsight, with the whole weekend, I just missed every phase just a little bit with the dressage, just the time a little [in] cross-country and one pole [in jumping]. So, you know, it wasn’t our best performance, but it’s still a good effort—something to be proud of,” said Martin.
“I’m a competitive person. I’ve been dreaming of doing well at this and I came up a little bit short from what my hopes were,” said Martin. “But, saying that, this is the best in the world and we’re not far off in the second round.”
The final team phase would serve to be far more impactful with regards to the individual leaderboard. A shocking rail for Townend jumping into the double dethroned him from his gold medal position heading into the final individual round of jumping, reserved for the 25 best combinations at the conclusion of the team final. Less than a rail separates the top two, with Germany’s Julia Krajewski holding the lead on 25.6 penalty points with the 11-year-old Selle Francais mare, Amande de B’neville.
This race is incredibly close. Just 4.2 points separate the top three, while the top nine riders are within two rails of each other heading into the individual final. Defending champion Michael Jung (GER) rebounded with a faultless jumping performance after picking up 11 penalty points on cross-country; he currently sits eighth with Chipmunk Frh, the former mount of Krajewski.
All three British riders advanced to the team final, all within the top five. Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States also send all three of their respective riders forward, with Martin leading the charge for the U.S. in 11th (38.7). It won’t be long before the final placings are decided, with the individual final slated to begin at 8:45 pm JST (7:45 am EDT).
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