Sir Mark Todd is among New Zealand's most celebrated sportsmen with two Olympic gold and three bronze medals, and every other major title available to him in the sport of three-day eventing.

His Olympic career has been outstanding. First chosen for the boycotted Moscow Olympics in 1980, he went on to compete in seven Olympic Games between 1984 and 2012 Olympics. By the time he was competing in London 2012, he was 56 years old, and the second-oldest New Zealander to have competed at an Olympics. Not that it showed, with his superb performance leading the New Zealand team to a bronze medal.

Endorsing his international reputation as a superb horseman, he was voted the Event Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation in 2000. He is a four-time winner at Badminton and a five-time winner at Burghley.

Todd was a pioneer of three-day eventing in New Zealand. Those who followed him included Olympic medallists and world champions like Tinks Pottinger, Blyth Tait, Vaughn Jefferis, Vicky Latta, Sally Clark, Andrew Nicholson, Jock Paget and Caroline Powell. Jefferis once said: “We all owe a huge debt to Mark Todd. He was the first, and he paved the way for the rest of us.”

Born in Cambridge in 1956, Todd grew up in the Waikato with an incredible passion for horses.

In 1978 he was part of New Zealand's first three-day eventing team to a world championship, at Lexington, Kentucky. On a brutal course Todd was doing well – 10th after the dressage and second in the steeplechase – until his horse, Tophunter, broke down during the cross-country stage.

That championship opened Todd's eyes to international three-day eventing. He juggled his finances, sometimes having to sell his horses, and had a crack at Badminton in 1980.

Badminton is the Wimbledon of eventing and Todd was a virtual unknown when he arrived; his mate Andrew Nicholson as his groom.

Riding Southern Comfort III, Todd was 45th after the dressage, but was one of only three inside the time limit on the cross-country. Going into the final day he was third. When Lucinda Prior-Palmer and Helen Butler came unstuck during the show jumping, Todd was Badminton champion, the first foreigner to win the crown in years. It was his first major victory in a glittering international career that was to stretch over four decades.

The highest peaks, certainly in the New Zealand public's estimation, are his two Olympic gold medals on Charisma, in 1984 and 1988. But there has been much more to Todd's career than just the Olympics.

He has had four victories at Badminton – 1980 (Southern Comfort III), 1994 (Horton Point), 1996 (Bertie Blunt) and 2011 (NZB Land Vision). When he rode in 2011 he was the oldest rider ever to have contested Badminton. That he won in such style only confirmed his quality.

At Burghley, the other major event of the annual eventing calendar, he won in 1987 (Wilton Fair), 1990 (Face the Music), 1991 (Welton Greylag), 1997 (Broadcast) and 1999 (Diamond Hall Red), the year he was also third on Word for Word.

Todd has performed consistently well in other major European events and has been a stalwart member of New Zealand teams at world championships.

His first world championship was at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1978. In 1986 at Gawler, Australia, he was 10th in the individual section on Charisma and helped New Zealand to fourth in the team competition. In 1990 at Stockholm he was fifth in the individual on Bahlua and helped the New Zealand team - also comprising Andrew Scott, Andrew Nicholson and Blyth Tait - to first place.

In 1994 in The Netherlands, Todd rode Just An Ace as the New Zealand team finished sixth. In 1998 the New Zealanders – Todd, Tait, Jefferis and Sally Clark - won in Rome, Italy, and Todd was second in the individual section on Broadcast News. Todd did not appear again at a world championship until 2010, when he rode Grass Valley and helped the New Zealand team to a bronze medal.

Over the years he gained a reputation for being able to hop on to an unfamiliar horse and turn in a champion performance. British rival Karen Dixon said: “He could make a donkey jump 10 feet.”

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Mark's Games History