Swiss rider wins Olympic show jumping gold
By MARGARET FREEMAN,
Updated August 8, 2012
LONDON (AP) Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, riding Nino des Buissonnets, won the gold medal in individual show jumping at the London Olympics after jumping cleanly in Wednesday's final two rounds of competition.
Gerco Schroder of the Netherlands, riding London, and Cian O'Connor of Ireland, on Blue Loyd 12, jumped off for silver. Schroder took second place after O'Connor hit the top rail of the final fence and got the bronze.
Schroder had scored one time fault in the first round and O'Connor one time fault in the second.
"He can jump anything if I ride him good," Guerdat said of his horse after his clean first round. "He feels fresh, like he could jump five more rounds."
Schroder named his horse London because he deliberately planned to aim for the London Games after he purchased him.
"We bought him at age 5," Schroder said. "I had a great feeling."
O'Connor returns to the Olympic medals podium after finishing first in individual show jumping in Athens in 2004. However, his horse there tested positive for a banned substance and he had to return the medal and serve a three-month suspension.
O'Connor was a late addition to the games for Ireland. He was the reserve Irish rider and got the call to come to London just two weeks before the opening ceremony after teammate Denis Lynch was disqualified from a competition in Germany when his horse had sore feet.
"I don't think I am one of the best riders in the world, but I am one of the best organized," O'Connor said.
There were two British riders among the last three to ride, raising expectations that a local rider might take a medal. But Nick Skelton, on Big Star, and Scott Brash, riding Hello Sanctos, both dropped one rail each to finish tied for fifth with Mexico's Alberto Michan on Rosalia la Silla.
A field of 22 riders advanced to the second round from the 35 starting the day. Riders from the first round could incur no more than five jumping and time faults to advance. Three rounds of qualifying earlier in the games started with 75 horse and rider combinations.
The United States, which won team gold and individual bronze in Beijing in 2008, had only one rider still in the competition for the last round. Rich Fellers, riding Flexible, carried five faults forward and had a clean second round to finish eighth.
The other U.S. rider to start the day, McLain Ward, had three fences down on Antares to count 12 faults and did not advance.
Ian Millar of Canada, riding in his 10th games, a record for any athlete, knocked down a rail in each round on Star Power to finish tied for ninth.
In show jumping, fences knocked down or refused by the horse count four faults. Faults also are accumulated for exceeding the time allowed.
The British riders won team show jumping gold Monday, and three of their riders made it into the final round.