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Devon-based eventer Mary King desperate to make plane to Rio following team silver medal

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 01, 2012

The Great Britain eventing team of (left to right) Mary King, Nicola Wilson, William Fox-Pitt, Tina Cook and Zara Phillips celebrate with their Olympic silver medals. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

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Devon's Mary King picked up a silver medal for Great Britain in the Olympic eventing team at the age of 51 – and then revealed she is desperate to carry on going for gold in four years' time.

The mother-of-two from Salcombe Regis, near Sidmouth, added the team silver to the one she won in Athens and the team bronze in Beijing.

And it might have been an even better day for the woman who broke her neck 11 years ago in a riding fall but came back to be one of Britain's most decorated Olympians.

King admitted that in the individual showjumping competition she made a mistake by frightening her horse, Imperial Cavalier, by riding too close to the bronze statue of a lion before starting jumping.

King said: "Stupidly, I rode near it and it really frightened him, not surprisingly."

Imperial Cavalier promptly knocked down two of the first three fences to drop from the bronze medal position to fifth.

"When they rang the bell he was strong and a bit nervous," added King." I should have circled. It was a mistake I made."

King, however, has no intention of hanging up her riding boots just yet.

She said: "I hope to be in Rio. I have no visions of stopping yet. I love the sport. I am fit and healthy though getting old and I love it. You've got Mark Todd [who won bronze for New Zealand and is 56] even older than me and still loving the sport.

"My daughter [Emily] is keen to ride in my footsteps and her dream is for us to ride in the team together, although she may be a bit young for Rio."

King insisted the silver quintet of Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt, Tina Cooke, Nicola Wilson and herself were something of a "dream team".

"We get on really well," said King. "We're all ages. I'm old enough to be Zara's granny, she calls me 'mare', but we have the same purpose and gel very well."

She saved the last word for her horse.

"Imperial Cavalier is the best horse I've ever had," she said. "He'll be too old for the next Olympics. Whether any of my other horses are good enough to do better than him, time will tell. That's the hope.

"I've got an upgraded silver at Athens and bronze in Beijing. Silver here in London, so gold next time."

Phillips, meanwhile, was rewarded with a silver medal and a double kiss from her mum – it so happened that Princess Anne was presenting the gongs – after becoming the first British royal on an Olympic podium.

Though all five members expressed their delight with second it could have been even better had Phillips, by her own admission, not "messed up" her showjumping finale.

No one would hold that against Phillips, whose achievement outshines her mother who competed in the 1976 Games but failed to win a medal, after she helped put the team into a winning position with a stunning ride in the cross country on Monday.

She said: "It's huge, it obviously wasn't the gold but to get an Olympic medal is incredible anyway. To do it with these guys... we have had an amazing week, it's been a great team and an unreal competition.

"When you get one of these put around your neck it brings it all back to you and you realise that everything was worth it. And of course it was amazing to receive the medal from my mum.

"We wanted gold but we made mistakes, but when this was round our necks it was all worthwhile."

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  • SailTime  |  August 01 2012, 11:48AM

    Well done to all the team, fantastic Silver medal and well deserved

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