A medal slipped through New Zealand’s fingers at in the equestrian three-day eventing today.
New Zealand entered the final day in second place behind Australia in the team competition, and their hopes were buoyed when Jonelle Price, riding Faerie Dianimo, knocked down just two rails and Clarke Johnstone, on Balmoral Sensation, went clear.
That meant New Zealand’s final rider, Mark Todd, could afford a rail and his team would still win the gold. It is a position Todd has been in often and he has shown a great temperament during his long career.
However, Leonidas II seemed a little jumpy on entering the arena and though Todd did all he could to keep him calm, he knocked down four rails.
In the final wash-up, France won with 169 points, Germany were second on 172.8, Australia third on 175.3 and New Zealand slipped to fourth on 178.8.
Going into the final showjumping round to decide the individual placings, Johnstone was the best placed of the New Zealanders, with 51.30 points for fifth place and within a rail of a medal. Todd was in 11th on 62 and Price 15th on 65.5.
Understandably, Todd said he was extremely disappointed as he left the arena.
"That was really tough. We fought back after the dressage and put ourselves in a medal position," he said. "The other guys did their jobs. If I went clear we could've won the gold. We don't do this to finish fourth. We want to win."
Todd said Leonidas II was tense and froze in the arena. "I think the atmosphere out there got to him.
“After the first one I just thought keep calm . . . there was nothing I could do. It was just awful.
“I can only say sorry to the fans at home. The support we have had from back home has been amazing."
He said he hadn't made any decisions about his future after Rio. "This horse is still relatively young and I have others. I will get home, let the dust settle and then see what I am going to do.”Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Mark Todd Clarke Johnstone Jonelle Price Equestrian - Eventing