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”When he stops, I will stop” | Quotes from Rio

Friday, 19 August 2016
The Olympic Games Rio 2016

"I have always wanted to do this," said Nick Skelton in Rio today after winning Olympic gold. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
"I have always wanted to do this," said Nick Skelton in Rio today after winning Olympic gold. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The three individual Olympic medalists met the press at the Deodoro equestrian venue today, as the Rio Games came to a close after a fantastic six-horse jump-off: 

Nick Skelton (gold):

At the age of 58 the Olympic Games in Rio was Nick Skelton’s seventh attempt to win an individual Olympic medal. After Nick earlier in the day said that his partner Big Star was “a bit rusty”, this is what he had to say at the press conference after the gold medal was secured:

“Today he was amazing, but I think he has been a bit rusty.”

Nick then went on to explain how hard he and his team have worked to get Big Star back after a couple of years with injuries. After the combination won the Grand Prix in Aachen in 2013, the powerful stallion has been out a lot and he has not jumped as big a course as he has done this week in Rio since their Aachen-win: “It has been a long road, and we have had to be very patient. He picked up an injury after Dublin 2013. We nursed him through that, and got him going and then he got a slight injury behind in the left hind suspensory at the beginning of the year. It is not really a bad injury, but you have to look after it. I have done almost nothing all season.”

Nick also explained that he only rides Big Star at the moment, and that he is the only horse he has ridden the whole year. “I won’t stop now. When he stops, I will stop.”

Nick was asked to put in words what this win meant to him after all he has been through: “For me to win this now at my age is amazing.”

About his emotions on the podium Nick said: “I was just emotional because it has been a long, long career and to do it now is unbelievable. I have always wanted to do this. I nearly did it in London. To actually win this and be lucky enough to get this horse here is pretty emotional for everyone in my team. My groom, Mark, has been with me 31 years. If you realize how many hours of the day he spends with that horse you would be amazed. He only looks after that one horse and he is around him nine hours a day, constantly caring for and looking after him”

About the tactics for the jump-off Nick explained that his plan was to go as fast as he could but without taking too many risk: “He is a quick horse anyway. I definitely had to go clear to add a bit of pressure on everybody else. Today luck was on my side.”

Nick was asked about his physical challenges: “I suffer from a really bad chronic back-pain. Getting legged up is painful, and I’ve also got a metal hip in the left side that doesn’t help so I always get up with a ladder.”

Nick about the number of clear riders in the first round: “I think all riders were surprised to get 13 clears; it was a lot and then even six in the jump-off. It worked out well for us, but you got to feel for the ones jumping three rounds and didn’t get anything.”

Nick described the first round as maybe a bit quiet and easily ridden, and the last round was just big. Some horses were getting tired and that was what stopped them. “I thought it would have been a bit more technical,” he stated.

About the agenda for Big Star; “We will take him home, and he will have a good rest now. I don’t know which shows I will go to next. We are out of the final in Barcelona, and I am not high enough on the ranking to get in on the Global Tours – but we will continue as long as he is fine and in one piece.”

Peder Fredricson (silver):

Silver medalist Peder Fredricson said this about his expectations and chances to win a medal: “I know I’m sitting on a very good horse. Maybe I was not expecting it, but I was hoping for it.”

Peder about his jump-off tactics: “I actually saw Nick and I tried to ride faster, but I couldn’t. I knew it was going to be a really fast jump-off. It is not many times there are that many riders in an Olympic jump-off for the gold. “

Peder about his horse All In: “It is a horse I bought as a seven-year-old. I saw him at Zangersheide when Nicola Philippaerts was riding him and I went to try him. Straight away after the first jump I knew he was the horse I was looking for. I have had him for three years now, and he has been going really well since I got him. “

Eric Lamaze (bronze):

Eric Lamaze about his emotions during this final day: “The Olympic is one of the most difficult things we come across in our sport. I think we all try the hardest to do the best we can and we really appreciate what the horses do for us. This little mare jumped her heart out this whole week. We are three on the podium, but anyone in that jump-off today deserves a medal. It is a relief that it is finally over.”

Eric Lamaze about his expectations ahead of the Games: “Everything has to go right to be here with a medal around our neck. You saw a lot of great horses and great riders have a lot of misfortune. You really need good luck all the way and you need your horse to stay healthy. It is never a predictable thing and also the last day starts at zero faults so it doesn’t matter what you have done so far. You qualify and then you have to jump two rounds and do it well. It is hard to predict what would happen, but I was sure Nick and Big Star would do well, and be on – or not far – from the podium.“

On the question about what this bronze meant compared to the gold he won in Hong Kong, Eric said: “In Hong Kong I was riding (maybe) a favorite. It was a little bit expected. This time I brought a little mare that we bought as a 1.50 speed horse. I am amazed of what she can do. She really jumps from the heart. It is two different things, riding the favorite and having a horse that is a bit unknown. You know it can do well, but you’re hoping everything will go well. “

Eric about what this medal will mean for his career and his legacy: “Most of us go to a show every week. There is always a Grand Prix. In my experience people always forget a Grand Prix, but an Olympic medal stays with you forever.”

Finally, Eric was asked about his mistake on the penultimate fence: “I saw Nick go and it was fast although he is very modest about it… I knew what I had to do, and even if I was unlucky to have a fence down I knew that there was still a spot open for a medal with a fast four fault round. Nick forced us to go at a speed that was a little uncomfortable having jumped so many rounds. The horses were a little tired. He put the pressure and he made us chase him and that was maybe where the faults came.”


Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Jenny Abrahamsson 

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