WHILE Usain Bolt deservedly racks up praise for his astonishing achievement of a slightly confusingly named ‘triple treble’ – winning gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in three successive Olympic Games – a lesser known Brit, who has been ploughing away in international competition for more than 40 years, secured his own piece of history.
Nick Skelton, a 58-year-old showjumper from Warwickshire, won gold in the individual category in Rio, his seventh Olympics, making him Britain’s oldest medal winner since 1908 when Irishman Joshua Millner won shooting gold in a pre-independence team.
Skelton, who has been riding since he was just 18 months old back in the late 1950’s, has now won two Olympic Golds, the other being a team medal picked up in London 2012, was the oldest equestrian competitor by eleven years, and climbed to the podium aided by a 2011 hip replacement.
It was the UK’s first individual showjumping medal since 1972 and came atop the dancing 13-year-old Big Star, whose last victory was in the 2013 Aachen grand prix.
“I am not going to stop now. I only ride Big Star at the moment. When he stops, I will stop. For definite,” Skelton said. “I have been in the sport a long time. I am so happy – it was amazing. I was just emotional on the podium because I am so happy with what I’ve done. To do it now is unbelievable. It is pretty emotional for all concerned.”
Olympic glory had eluded Skelton, who also broke his neck in 2000, for decades, coming closest in Athens 2004 and having a bevy of world and European championships to his name. Only time will tell whether he or Big Star are fit enough to compete in Tokyo 2020 but, regardless of whether he continues, Nick Skelton’s place in the history books is now guaranteed.