STEVE GUERDAT WINS OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL
By Lulu Kyriacou for HORSE TIMES, London
PRECISION TIMING WAS NOT NEEDED TO DECIDE THE INDIVIDUAL GOLD SHOW JUMPING MEDAL AS STEVE GUERDAT WAS THE CLEAR WINNER AFTER COMPLETING TWO CLEAR ROUNDS, THE ONLY RIDER TO DO SO.
After the team final, the fight for individual medals was always going to take a lot of living up to for excitement. A maximum of three riders from each team were allowed to start in the Final and Britain, the Netherlands, France and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia all had the maximum through. But when two of the first of the 35 finalists went clear, it looked for a moment as if Bob Ellis might have under done the difficulty level. The top twenty after the first round would go through to the second and Ireland's Cian O'Connor and France's Olivier Guillon both quickly made sure of their place. They were soon joined by Portugal’s Luciana Dinitz who scored just one penalty on Lennox for time over the 84 second course but then the course began to really take its toll. Sweden's medal chances were dented when the silver medallist from Hong Kong and current European Champion Rolf-Goran Bengtsson had to withdraw before the class. Faults would be carried forward into the next round but a fast four faults in this might at least get you to the next one, where anything could happen the riders all attacked the course with some determination.
The short run to the water and the last line featuring the combination were the places that seemed to create the most problems as the struggle for clean sheets continued. Luminary names such as Kevin Staut, Jos Lansink and Eric Lamaze failed to keep clean sheets but Alvaro Miranda and Rodrigo Pessoa kept the Brazilians well in the running with two four fault rounds. Then Switzerland's Steve Guerdat rode beautifully to join the clears on Nino des Buissonnete as did Great Britain's Scott Brash - and that seemed to open the class up a bit. Marcus Ehning on Plot Blue could not repeat their earlier round and crashed out with nine faults.
Kamal Bahamdan was first of the Saudi riders to go. And he could not have ridden better to finish on just one time penalty on his recently acquired partner Noblesse des Tess. Ramzy Al Duhami had a bit of a disagreement with his horse as he approached the combination and sadly had 12 faults which effectively ended his challenge. HRH Prince Abdullah bin Miteb Al Saud and the lovely Davos lowered two early fences then steadied themselves to add just one more time fault but they also would not take any further part but like Ramzy, he could retire knowing he had played a big part in Saudi Arabia's first ever team medal.
The second round started with six riders on completely clean sheets, four with one time penalty, nine on four faults and three riders just scraping in with five penalties. If there were any ties after this round, there would be jump offs to decide each medal. It was a totally new course that faced them with ten fences and finishing with a huge oxer, 1.90m wide. American Rich Fellars was the first to go clear on Flexible to put pressure on the ones above. So did Mexico's Alberto Michan with his delightful mare Rosalia la Silla. But it was Gerco Schroder who really tightened the screws on the leaders with his clear on London to finish on that one unfortunate time penalty - but that meant all the others must go clear to beat him. Whatever happened to Kamal, he had done himself, Saudi Arabia and Arabs proud for he was clear! Sadly, a time fault was also added but what a performance from the Arab rider and his beautiful mare. Then Cian O'Connor exactly matched him, being only a fraction over the time.
Steve Gurdat was the first to ride two completely clean rounds. Scott Brash could not match him. Marcus Ehning could not match him either and had two down. Last to go, to jump for the gold medal, was Nick Skelton.
Silence does not begin to describe the arena as he started. And the Cutty Sark fence fell. That left the Swiss rider with the gold medal and while Gerco and Cian jumped off for silver, a look down the results saw Kamal in fourth!! What a fantastic result for him and the whole KSA team really, who have all ridden far in excess of their expected results. Gerco Schroder did beat Cian for the silver medal when the Irishman hit the last, but for the Arab riders it was a golden week and something to whet the appetite for the next World Championship in Caen, France, 2014.
Photo © Nada H. Abdelmoniem
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