Tokyo Olympics: Great Britain eventers win team gold for first time in 49 years

Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
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Great Britain have won Olympic team eventing gold for the first time in 49 years and are well placed for individual medals later on Monday.

World number one Oliver Townend, Laura Collett and Tom McEwen sealed team victory in the final showjumping stage.

They claimed the gold ahead of Australia while France took bronze.

Townend is second in the individual standings with McEwen third and Collett fifth before the final round of jumping to decide those medals (12:45 BST).

The GB team finished with 86.30 penalties – 13.90 clear of Australia – to seal Britain’s 11th gold of the Games.

“My nerves were fine,” said McEwen, 30, whose stables are on the the Princess Royal’s Gatcombe estate in Gloucestershire.

“They [Townend and Collett] are both brilliant riders, and I had no doubt they would pull it straight out of the bag quite easily and comfortably.”

Tom McEwen riding Toledo de Kerser
GB riders Tom McEwen (pictured), Laura Collett and Oliver Townend are making their Olympic debuts

Britain last won eventing team gold at the 1972 Games in Munich, and only two riders – Richard Meade (1972) and Leslie Law (2004) – have tasted individual glory.

Despite all three this time making their Olympic debuts, GB held a huge lead of 17.9 penalties after faultless rounds in Sunday’s cross-country phase, and they comfortably retained top spot.

McEwen went clear on Toledo De Kerser, while Collett had four faults aboard London 52 and Townend also collected four with Ballaghmor Class.

German rider Julia Krajewski has the individual lead on 25.60 with Townend next on 27.60 and McEwen with 28.90.

‘Lucky to be alive’ – Collett caps comeback

Victory sealed a remarkable return for Collett who nearly died in a fall eight years ago and spent six days in a coma.

She suffered a punctured lung, spine, shoulder and rib fractures, and lost much of her vision in one eye.

“I know I am lucky just to be alive, let alone doing the job I love and winning an Olympic medal,” the 31-year-old told BBC Sport.

“Just to be here was more than a dream come true.”

Collett said her horse London 52 – who is nicknamed ‘Dan’ at his stables near Cheltenham – was spooked by the reflection from water when they made a mistake.

“He got it back together. It’s a shame, but it could have been a whole lot worse in that situation. It was a very clever course,” she added.

‘Classy horses and classy people’

Townend adds Olympic gold to a glittering CV which includes victories at the major Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky events.

“The other guys have made it so easy for me – they are such brilliant riders,” said the 39-year-old, who is based in Shropshire.

“I’m surrounded by class horses and very classy people.

“There will be a big celebration and I don’t think it will be with a cup of tea and a biscuit.”

This was a third equestrian medal in Tokyo for Team GB following Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Charlotte Fry winning dressage team bronze, and Dujardin also collecting an individual bronze.

It is only Britain’s third Olympic team title in eventing after Stockholm in 1956 and Munich 16 years later.

The 25 best riders will now take part in a final show jumping round to decide the individual medals, with the British trio in the final five as the competitors go out in reverse order.

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