Eventer’s win first Olympic medal for New Zealand

By Sacha Harwood

New Zealand eventing team has brought home the nations first medal of the London Olympic Games with a heart-stopping showjumping performance with the nations expectations riding on their backs.

A 16-year teams medal drought is finally broken with a bronze in the team eventing.

Even the grey skies couldn’t dampen the teams performance with veterans Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson as well as younger Jock Paget keeping nerves at bay as the Swedes buckled under the intense competition.

It’s a reemergence for the sport as Mark Todd said, 28 years after the first of his two individual golds in Los Angeles.

The oldest of the 185 Kiwis in London this will be his fifth Olympic medal.

Exhausted after his part in securing the team bronze his chances of an individual medal have become far slimmer.

“As I said all along [Campino] is a young horse with not a lot of experience and he did brilliantly in the first two phases of the competition.

“He was very tired coming into the arena and we had one [fence] down early and maybe we were lucky not to knock one more down. Although I am disappointed to not win gold, it is brilliant to have won a medal with the team.”

With the high expectations of Todd it was perhaps a little too much pressure to put on his young horse who has done exceptionally well to be part of the medal.

“With a young horse it takes a while to adjust to that pressure and learn to bounce back. He has only done the one three-star three-day before here and has never had to work as hard as he did yesterday.

“I said all along the Olympics came a year too soon and that probably showed today.”

For the second oldest in the team, 50-year-old Andrew Nicholson this will be his third team Olympic medal after a silver in 1992 and a bronze in 1996 while all three other members of the team, Jonelle Richards, Caroline Powell and Jock Paget have done exceptionally well for their first Olympic games.

Although it was Todd’s dressage the gave the team a push into the medal spotlight, each of the team members played their part to reach bronze with Paget putting the early pressure on Sweden in the showjumping and Nicholson securing the place with beautifully executed clear rounds in both the showjumping and cross-country.