September 29th, 2016

Nick Skelton has his sights set on an Olympic medal in Rio after qualifying for the Showjumping individual final

Nick Skelton has his sights set on an Olympic medal in Rio after qualifying for the Showjumping individual final Nick Skelton has his sights set on an Olympic medal in Rio after qualifying for the Showjumping individual final

WARWICKSHIRE’s Nick Skelton kept his showjumping medal hopes in Rio alive after securing a place in Friday’s individual final.

Both Skelton and fellow British rider Ben Maher qualified after finishing inside the top 35 despite both picking up penalties throughout the week, although they will have a clean slate in the final.

Skelton, who lives in Alcester and went to Bablake School in Coventry, started Wednesday’s qualifying round on eight faults and despite picking up another jump penalty and one time penalty on his reliable horse Big Star, the 58-year-old progressed on 13 faults.

With the scores set to start from zero again tomorrow for the final rounds, Skelton, who was fifth in the individual event at London 2012, insists he is due an upturn in fortunes.

“I’m happy with that – he jumped great,” said Skelton, who won team gold for Team GB with Big Star four years ago. “Again he was a bit unlucky and touched the wrong one.

“He left the floor well and he just touched it. He’s due for a change of luck and fingers crossed it will come on Friday. We all start equal again in the final which is different.

“The horse is jumping really good. He’s not doing a lot wrong. He just needs a change of luck. Time was very tight on Thursday. The time limit was probably too tight.

“I think that’s been done for a reason because there are a lot of teams on zero and that could be the fractions that will break them down into the medal positions for the team event. If the times were too easy, you could get a jump off.”

Fellow Brit Maher will also join Skelton in Friday’s final in Deodoro after progressing comfortably with nine faults from his three rounds on his stallion Tic Tac.

There was to be no repeat of gold in the team event however for Team GB after they failed to qualify for the final round of the team contest which took place on Wednesday.

Skelton formed part of the British team that finished on 13 faults in 12th place overall with the top eight going through to compete for medals.

There was controversy however as Skelton’s Big Star was penalised with four points at a water jump which the Team GB camp appealed but they were unsuccessful.

“That horse has never been in a water jump in his life and I don’t think he was in that one,” Skelton added. “He put his feet over it and his feet touched the tape which is allowed. We’re appealing it.

“The horse jumped amazing. He’s jumping those things easily and couldn’t have jumped it any better. He was foot perfect out there.”

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