Team GB’s Ben Maher soars to Olympic showjumping gold

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<span>Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Great Britain’s Ben Maher won individual showjumping gold at Tokyo Equestrian Park after eclipsing his rivals aboard the brilliant Explosion W.

Maher produced a dazzling display under the floodlights to give Team GB their second successive Olympic showjumping champion following Nick Skelton’s success with Big Star in Rio five years ago. Maher, now 38, helped Britain to London 2012 team gold alongside Skelton, Scott Brash and Peter Charles, and he added individual title glory after living up to his tag as the pre-Games favourite.

Related: Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre win Team GB’s third Olympic sailing gold

Thirty combinations contested the final, with six going through to a jump-off in which Maher triumphed ahead of Peder Fredricson of Sweden, who took silver, and the Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten, the bronze medallist.

Maher’s victory gave the Great Britain equestrian team a fifth Olympic medal in Tokyo, equalling their record haul achieved in London. His win followed gold for the eventing team and Tom McEwen’s individual eventing silver, plus team dressage bronze and Charlotte Dujardin’s individual dressage bronze.

The Enfield-born Maher likened Explosion W’s power to driving a Ferrari after victory in the 430,000 Rolex Grand Prix at Royal Windsor last month and there was a jaw-dropping quality to a showjumping masterclass on the sport’s biggest stage.

Maher won by 17 hundredths of a second, delivering a memorable jump-off round to take the Olympic title.

His Team GB colleagues Scott Brash and Harry Charles, though, did not make the jump-off. There was agony for the 36-year-old Brash on Hello Jefferson following an immaculate jumping round, but one time fault ended their medal chances. Charles, who was 22 last month, had four fences down on Romeo 88 and retired just before the end of his round, but it was a valuable experience for one of British showjumping’s most exciting young riders.

Ireland’s trio of Cian O’Connor, Bertram Allen and Darragh Kenny also missed out, with O’Connor – like Brash – collecting a solitary time fault.

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