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SCOOP Olympic Update, Friday, Sept 22, 2000

SCOOP Olympic Update, Friday, Sept 22, 2000
Article: Mathew Loh


NEW ZEALAND has at last tasted Olympic glory with double gold medalist and 'horseman of the century' Mark Todd overcoming a difficult preparation and a personal smear campaign to win a bronze medal, riding Eyespy II, in the individual three day event.


Following his gold medal success on Charisma at both the 1984 Los Angeles Games and 1988 in Seoul Todd, competing in his last Olympiad, underlined his immense class and horemanship to withstand the pressure from a campaign fraught with problems.

And then when it counted his world class ability allowed him to rise above the distractions to ride Eyespy II into history as New Zealand's first medalist of Sydney 2000.


Coming into today's crucial show-jumping round Todd was third behind David O'Connor of the USA and Greece's 22-year-old rider Heidi Anitkatzidis. Revelling in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the equestrian arena Todd took Eyespy II through an impressive clear jumping round but unfortunately incurred a time penalty.


This lapse of timing could have proved tragic as it allowed Australian rider Andrew Hoy to overtake Todd with NZ's master horseman being shifted back to fourth and out of medal contention with only Antikatzidis and O'Connor to come.


In an extremely tense atmosphere NZ's hopes of medals were almost gone when Antikatsidis brought her mount to the start of the jumping round. Ironically Antikatsidis list's, in her media bio, Mark Todd as her hero and inspiration for she was in the position to cast him out of the games without a reward.


But fortunately for NZ and Todd the pressure took it's toll on the inexperienced Greek rider and she knocked over two rails to hand Todd his third Olympic medal and NZ's first of the 27th Olympiad.


Antikatsidis' errors saw Aussie Andrew Hoy take the silver on Swizzle In while former NZ team groom and long-time friend of Todd USA's David O'Connor won a deserved gold on his very impressive steed Custom Made.

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