Olympic Gold

On August 6, 2012 by Sarah Lewis

British Gold

British Gold

Last Tuesday was exciting, but this afternoon was right off the scale! Luckily Mark managed to organise me to apply for tickets on the second go round, and as I was the one who could remember my password I was lucky enough to get four for the team final of the show jumping. Unfortunately Sophie has run out of holiday so Clare, Mark’s sister joined Anna, Mark and I today. We bumped into Shaun Marsh and Michele Hoad from Felbridge Showground at London Bridge Station, so we all had lunch together in Greenwich and then were in our seats in really good time. We were only four rows back, just by the second last fence, so we were really up close and personal!

After the first team round Saudi Arabia led on 1 penalty, with Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland on four faults, and two fences covering all eight teams in the final. The 21 individual qualifiers jumped first posting only two clear rounds between them so it was clear that Bob Ellis’ course was going to take its toll. The tension and excitement as Nick Skelton and Big Star entered the arena was almost unbearable – a fantastic clear round keeping both the team and individual dream alive. When Ben Maher and Tripple X just had four faults at the difficult distance across the arena, hopes were dampened, but only Maikel van der Vleuten on Verdi from the Netherlands managed a clear before Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos put us back in the hunt again with an immaculate clear. Our worst possible score was 8 faults, but the Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager and Tamino immediately produced a clear. It was worse than Murray v Federer at Wimbledon – break of serve and immediately break back! By this time the silver medal was in the bag, but when Peter Charles had a fence and a time fault the gold looked just out of reach. However Gerco Schroder and London also had four faults, and we were into a jump-off with the Netherlands for Gold!

What an amazing display of horsemanship. Thank you to Nick, Ben, Peter & Scott for wonderful riding, entertainment and your nerves of steel. Thank you to the Widdowsons, Harrises, Phillipses and Olga White for keeping these wonderful horses in the country. Thank you to Bob Ellis for his great courses, and Good Luck to Nick and Ben for the Individual Final on Wednesday. Go Team GB!Jump-off: In came Nick and Big Star and produced not only an immaculate clear, but also what turned out to be the fasted time of the jump-off, followed by Jur Vrieling and a slightly slower clear, then a fabulous clear from Ben, four faults from Maikel – we could nearly touch the gold! Then Hello Sanctos just got on his head a bit and took out a vertical and Marc Houtzager also had four faults – if Peter could go clear? And he did – it was Gold. 60 years since Great Britain last won Gold in the Show Jumping and 28 years since we last won a show jumping medal at all.

Olympics 1

On August 5, 2012 by Sarah Lewis

Anna & Sophie at the Olympics

Anna & Sophie at the Olympics


Mark and I did not get a single ticket in the initial ballot, but Anna and Sophie got two tickets each to the eventing show jumping. Very kindly they took me, and even more kindly the chief Greenwich sceptic – Mark. He was especially lucky to get the nod as he has spent the past six years regaling anybody who would listen with his many reasons for not wanting the equestrian events at Greenwich. Given the the size of his audience at the WEG in Kentucky – quite a lot of people have been priviledged to hear his opinion! The planning for this Lewis expedition was intense – I have never had quite so many emails telling me how to get to London, what to wear and what to take with me! My only decision was to buy the picnic in Marks & Spencer at London Bridge Stations and this is the only thing that nearly failed! As we arrived at M&S at 8.00 am the shutters were going down as Network Rail considered that there was a health & safety risk if too many people were in the shop at once. We were crestfallen until we spotted two blonde figures through the shutters. Anna & Sophie had managed to get under the shutters and were doing the trolley dash for our picnic with the whole shop and twelve cashiers to themselves – relief – Lewises need a lot of fuel to get through a day and we don’t queue well!
There was never any doubt that I was going to love the Olympics: I love watching high level sport and have been so looking forward to the Olympics being right here in London. But so far this Olympics has exceeded any expectations. Danny Boyle proved an inspired choice to direct the opening ceremony and set us up for 16 days of the Best of British.

Winning FlagsFrom Greenwich Station we had a lovely walk through Greenwich and past the Cutty Sark and were in our seats in very good time. Both lots of seats gave us breathtaking views over the arena and over London.  With more than three fences between Germany and Great Britain and then less than a fence covering Britain, Sweden and New Zealand, I knew that any chance of winning Gold depending on Germany losing it, and that Britian had to pull out all the stops to avoid slipping below bronze. With three riders out of five to count for each team it was very difficult to work out the team positions, and there was very little help from the commentators Ian Stark and Mike Tucker. Luckily BBC Sport have an excellent app, which Sophie and I not only have ourselves, but rather bossily we also downloaded for the lady next door to us, who had no idea what was happening. Although Zara did make a nervous looking mistake, the Swedes made more mistakes, and whilst Germany undoubtably were out and out winners, and would have still won using one of their discard scores, Mary & Tina used their experience and grit to hang on to silver.

There was then a break before the individual competition, with Mary and Tina lying 3rd and 4th. Sadly not all fairy tales come true and neither managed to hold onto a medal. For Sara Algottson and her wonderful homebred Wega the dream also slipped away at the last fence and Michael Jung and Sam stamped their authority over yet another top class competition.

Since Monday it has been virtually impossible to make any sustained effort to work. The Olympics have been totally encompassing: especially the rowing and then Mo Farrar, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford. I have managed to terrify Twiglet twice shouting at Heather & Helen and then at Mo! I can see that Murray is about to need some verbal encouragement, and we are back to Greenwich tomorrow for the final of the team show jumping – team GB currently in joint second place behind Saudi Arabia. There is all to play for tomorrow with only a couple fences covering all eight of the teams which jump tomorrow. Fingers crossed that Ben and Nick will keep up their excellent form to stand themselves in excellent stead for Wednesday’s individual competition.