New Zealand’s Olympic eventing team received a warm welcome when they returned to their Kiwi roots, after winning a bronze medal at London 2012.
The five riders paraded through Cambridge, which is located in the heart of the Waikato horse-breeding county. It is also home to eventing legends Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, who are now both based in the UK.
Andrew came to England back in the 1980s and is based near Marlborough, while Mark returned to the UK in 2009 following his comeback to eventing.
"It's difficult, we spend all our time riding in Europe and the support we get from people over here is unbelievable," Nicholson told One News in Auckland. "I hope they realise how much I appreciate the support they give and you know even at Greenwich Park you could see the New Zealand crowd and hear them and it's a big, big help."
Both riders were competing in their seventh Olympic games, and Mark isn’t ruling out making it eight at Rio in 2016. The 56-year-old said the celebrations in his home town were “brilliant”.
“It was great to see so many kids out here and so many people I've known from the past,” he said. “It was very heart-warming to get such a warm reception."
The three other riders on the team are also based in the UK, making the most of the country’s great eventing scene.
Caroline Powell, who rode her veteran Lenamore at this year’s games, is based in Scotland, while Jonelle Richards came to England in 2003 with her eventing husband Tim. At the time they were only here to prepare for the Athens Olympics in 2004, but they both fell in love with Britain’s eventing scene and set up permanent home in Marlborough.
Jonathan ‘Jock’ Paget moved from Muriwai, near Auckland, to England for the 2010 season, and then returned to his Surrey base in 2011 to get ready for the London games.
The riders' change of address clearly paid off as their bronze was won against tough competion from Great Britain, who took silver, and Germany who won gold. The medal is one of 13 won by New Zealand at this year's Olympics.