Equestrian wrap: A bronze tops off Rio campaign

Published 30 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Matt Williams of Australia rides Valinski S during the Individual Jumping 3rd Qualifier during Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Equestrian Centre on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

EQUESTRIAN: With a bronze in their bags Australia’s eventing team leaves Rio eager to begin their campaign for gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Chris Burton, Sam Griffiths, Shane Rose and Stuart Tinney won Australia its seventh Olympic team eventing medal, continuing Australia’s strong tradition in the sport.

The team came close to winning gold after dominant cross country performances but in a tightly contested show jumping finale showcasing the sport at its best, the team finished up with the bronze.

In the individual event Griffiths and Burton narrowly missed the medals after finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Griffiths’ horse Paulank Brockagh was a standout on the final day, producing two clear show jumping rounds.

“It felt awesome, my horse tried her heart out,” said Griffiths of his last day performance.

“I can only do this thanks to my horse and I was just so pleased with her and that’s what makes it so emotional for us and of course being at an Olympic Games is always an emotional time.”

“At one stage we were in the gold medal position and it was ours to take. It was a day of up and downs but it was good for the sport. It was an exciting day.”

Five-time Dressage Olympian Mary Hanna is also firmly focused on Tokyo.

Should Hanna make the team she could become Australia’s first female athlete to attend six Olympic Games

The 61-year-old grandmother attended her first Olympic Games at age 41 in Atlanta and is proof that age is no barrier in equestrian sport; she’s just as motivated as ever.

“I’m completely prepared, I’ve got two horses up there, I’m more prepared than anybody,” said Hanna.

Hanna’s team-mates Lyndal Oatley, Kristy Oatley and Sue Hearn helped the team to an overall ninth position while individually Hanna was 39th.

In the show-jumping Edwina Tops-Alexander and Matt Williams did Australia proud after both qualified through to the final. Tops-Alexander equalled her best ever Olympic Games performance finishing in ninth position while Williams was 28th.

The Aussie team captain Tops-Alexander and her horse Lintea Tequila were consistent performers over the course of the competition but in the final round of the individual final the pair knocked the third last fence from the finish line; it was enough to end her medal hopes.

Australia finished the team’s show jumping event in 13th position.

Michelle Cook
olympics.com.au

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