The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today confirmed the four showjumpers who will represent Team GB at the London 2012 Games.
The all-male team will consist of:
Scott Brash (26) from Peebles, Scotland, riding Hello Sanctos, owned by Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham
Peter Charles (52) from Alton, Hampshire, riding [Murka’s] Vindicat W owned by Olga White, Tara Charles & Team Murka
Ben Maher (29) from Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, riding Tripple X III owned by The Quainton Stud and rider
Nick Skelton OBE (54) from Alcester, Warwickshire, riding Big Star owned by Mrs Beverley Widdowson
The travelling reserve is Tina Fletcher (47) from Farringdon, Oxfordshire, riding Hello Sailor
British team stalwart Nick Skelton will be representing Great Britain at his sixth Olympic Games (and in addition took part in the Alternative Games of 1980). His 2008 teammate Ben Maher will be attending his second Games; both riders were part of the bronze medal winning team at last year’s European Championships where Skelton also claimed individual bronze.
Although Scott Brash will make his Olympic debut in Greenwich, the Scottish number one is no stranger to team selections as a regular competitor on Nations Cups squads since 2010. With new ride Hello Sanctos, he bagged his biggest Grand Prix win to date at the start of 2012 in Florida, and has continued to impress this season.
Peter Charles completes the team line up and will also head to London as an Olympic debutant for Great Britain, but with the experience of having previously competed for Ireland on his past two Olympic appearances (1992 and 1996). The Liverpudlian won individual gold at the European Championships in 1995 and has an impressive track record to his name including three consecutive Hickstead Derby wins.
Waiting in the wings is Tina Fletcher with her long-term partner Hello Sailor, with whom she boasts a wealth of experience on the international circuit. The combination would make their championship and Olympic debut for Great Britain if called upon this summer.
Team GB Chef de Mission, Andy Hunt commented: “The athletes selected today have a good mix of experience and strongform leading up to the Games and with the support of the home crowd behind them at Greenwich Park I have every confidence they will deliver inspirational and exciting performances. Earning selection to compete at your sixth Olympic Games is a very special achievement and is a tribute to Nick Skelton’s quality, determination and consistency. I am sure the other riders and athletes across Team GB will learn a lot from Nick’s wealth of experience.”
Equestrian Team Leader, Will Connell commented: “This announcement completes the selection of the Team GB equestrian team for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The selected jumping team athletes mirror the other Team GB equestrian teams, in that they are a mix of youth and experience. This is an exciting team that is very much in the ascendancy in terms of their results and their horses’ competition experience."
Showjumping Performance Manager Rob Hoekstra commented: “I am very excited. The decisions have been made and everyone has had a chance to show us what they can do. We are going to London with an extremely strong, talented and young team of horses. We have three 10 year-olds and one nine-year-old which I would imagine to be the youngest team of horses that you will see there. As a team, we go as a strong unit, fighting together with an aim of making Great Britain proud."
Scott Brash: “I am just so pleased, I’m really looking forward to it and getting out there and focusing on the jobin hand. I remember watching the Olympics four years ago and never thought that I would be in theposition I’m in today where I’m preparing for London 2012. Everything has happened so quickly and each year has just got better and better for me. When I think about the fact that I only got the ride on Sanctos at the end of last year and the way we have bonded along with the confidence I have in him it’s quite remarkable. I just hope that I can now goout and do my country proud in addition to everyone that has supported me and helped me get tothis point; my grooms, vets, farriers, friends, family and in particular my owners without whom thiswould have been impossible.”
Peter Charles: “It’s good, I don’t usually get too emotional about these things but this is different – it’s already agreat achievement and a great honour for me to be selected to compete for Team GB. I’ll now sitdown with our Performance Manager Rob [Hoekstra] to make plans for our best preparation. Vinny [Murka’s Vindicat W] is a wonderful athlete, maybe the least experienced horse on the team,but he more than makes up for that in talent and ambition. He’s only a small horse but he’s a big fighter. We’ve got four good horses and four good riders so it’s a capable team; I’m looking forward to it.”
Ben Maher: “It’s amazing; it’s just a dream to be in the Olympics, the news hasn’t really sunk in. Making the team is one thing but the hard work really starts now, there’s a lot of pressure to live up to, hopefully we can pull everything together at the right time. I love competing on home soil, it’s lucky for me and it will be great that so many people who’ve helped me get where I am will be able to relate to that. Hugo [Tripple X III] is homebred which makes this extra special, the horse has only ever had me on his back in competition so by now we know we trust each other. Mike and Emma Phillips who I partown him with have been amazing. From our very first conversation they said it would be a dreamto have a horse at the Olympics. I couldn’t do it without them and it’s great to tick this box for them now. It’s such a massive honour.”
Nick Skelton: “Seventh time lucky hopefully; I’m really pleased to be selected. The horses are going well at the moment and I hope we’ve got a good chance although you never know what will happen on theday. Henry [Big Star] is a placid, easy going horse and doesn’t seem to mind the big occasions so Iwouldn’t think Greenwich will faze him too much. I’ve just got to thank Gary and Beverley Widdowson, the horse’s owners who’ve stuck by me eventhrough I’m getting on a bit in years. Having a horse at the Olympics has always been their aim. They’ve refused a lot of money and not many would have resisted the temptation to sell so I’m very lucky to have their support.”
The first round of the jumping competition starts on Saturday 4 August; the team competition running 5-6 August with the individual final taking place on 8 August. All four athletes compete as aTeam and an Individual, but only the three best scores will count towards the team result.