22nd gold makes it Britain’s best Games

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Britain won a 22nd Olympic gold medal on Tuesday to make it the host nation’s most successful Games in history. The gold for the dressage team at Greenwich pushed the gold medal haul for the London Games beyond the 19 that Britain won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Britain is comfortably third in the medals table, behind China and the United States.
The Beijing total had been equalled when Alistair Brownlee won the men’s triathlon earlier on Tuesday. More medals could follow in the track cycling later in the day. Britain have already won five golds in the Velodrome and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins took the cycling time trial title.
Four golds have come from rowing, while a remarkable night in the Olympics Stadium on Saturday produced three golds, for heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah in the 10,000m and Greg Rutherford in the long jump. Sailor Ben Ainslie won the fourth gold of his Olympic career, while Andy Murray beat Roger Federer to take the men’s singles title. Britain’s other gold medals came in canoe slalom and shooting and from the team show jumping event. British competitors have been supported by funding underpinned by the national lottery in preparation for the first Olympics held in London since 1948.
Great Britain win historic dressage team gol: Great Britain celebrated their first dressage medal in Olympic history with gold in the team event at Greenwich Park on Tuesday, taking the host nation’s gold total to a record 20.
A century of disappointment at this exalted level came to a glorious end for the London 2012 hosts courtesy of Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Bechtolsheimer. The triumphant trio followed up Britain’s show jumping team gold 24 hours earlier with a score of 79.979 to defeat dressage masters Germany, who took silver on 78.216.
The Netherlands, on 77.124, revised down slightly after an initial total of 77.127, came in third.
Britain went into this final round with a slender lead over Germany, who were seeking their ninth consecutive Olympic title. And with Princess Anne, who competed at the 1976 Montreal Games, in the crowd, the home team were set on their way by a superb opening test from Hester – who posted a new Olympic Grand Prix Special record riding Uthopia.
Bechtolsheimer, on Mistral Hojris, kept the momentum rolling with Olympic debutant Dujardin sealing victory on Valegro and lowering the freshly established Olympic record set a few minutes earlier in the process. Hester, appearing at his fourth Olympics, said: “I know it is an old cliche, but this is the culmination of many years of dreaming about it and it finally happening. “Both those girls (Dujardin and Bechtolsheimer) are cool customers. “Charlotte was unbelievable. The horse (Valegro) was also unbelievable, he’s the best horse in the world.”
He added: “I told Charlotte on the way down here that some people wish it would happen, some people think it will happen, and you’re going to make it happen. “She just goes in and does it like the true professional she is and like most of the athletes who have won gold for Britain. It has shot our sport into a totally different league.” Dujardin could be celebrating further gold on Thursday in the individual dressage, for which the inexperienced but brilliant 27-year-old will start hot favourite.
She praised Valegro, describing him as “a once-in-a-lifetime horse.” And on scoring higher than her mentor, Hester, she added: “I always love beating him. We will be competing again in the freestyle and I will beat him again!”
Up to this remarkable turnaround in their fortunes, the mysterious world of dressage based on cavalry training techniques developed in Europe in the Middle Ages had eluded Britain.
Equine ballet, as it has been described, involves the top hat and tailed rider instructing the horse with barely perceptable movements to demonstrate obedience, relaxation and agility. Among the moves are piaffe, where the horse appears to be dancing on the spot, and half-pass, a trot diagonally across the arena.
Each routine, set to music, lasts around six minutes and is assessed by eagle-eyed judges sitting in wooden cabins around the arena. Britain’s best previous showing in dressage came four years ago in Beijing when they came in sixth to Germany.
Well-beaten in sixth on Tuesday came the United States, with one of their number, Jan Ebling, riding Rafalca, part-owned by Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mick Romney.
Rafalca’s ears were covered with an equine-style baseball cap, sporting the Stars and Stripes.
Asked if his horse’s owners had turned up to watch Ebling replied: “Yes, the three amigos are in the audience. That is Mrs Romney, my wife and Beth Meyer. “I blew them a kiss at the end as I knew where they were sitting.”
The equestrian competition continues on Wednesday with Britain’s Nick Skelton riding Big Star fancied to win individual show jumping gold to add to the team title he won here on Monday.