Friday, June 15, 2012
Mary King heads off for a first session of Team GB training on Monday, after her place in Olympic team was confirmed this week.
“I am absolutely thrilled to bits, very excited,” she said. “I knew I was in with a good chance but there are a lot of people in that position and you never know until you hear officially.”
King heads to her sixth Olympics, this time riding Imperial Cavalier, bidding to add a gold medal to the bronze and silver she already holds.
She added: “Greenwich is a very hilly, tight track. My horse is more geared towards galloping tracks like Badminton but he is a really good jumper and powerful. It will be like being on a helter skelter, the jumps come up so fast.”
King’s mother and stalwart supporter Jill will be at Greenwich for her fourth Olympics, having missed Atlanta and Athens due to Mary’s children Emily and Freddie being very young in those years.
William Fox-Pitt, Tina Cook, Zara Phillips and Piggy French make up the five-strong team.
The team will be competing in two weeks time at Salperton Horse Trials in dressage and showjumping, possibly missing the cross country phase, but competing in full at Barbury Castle Horse Trials the week after.
That will be the team’s final run before the Olympics in july.
They will also be competing in pure dressage and showjumping competitions.
The kitting out day is on either July 9 or 10 when Team GB will bet their team kit at NEC Birmingham.
King will be looking forward to that bit - she has her own competiton with herself to keep her trainers going between Olympics and she hasn’t bought any for 24 years!!
She joked: “Mine are just getting a bit holey now for playing tennis in, but i wanted to hold on in the hopes I got selected!”
King also has King’s Temptress on the Reserve list but she isn’t a direct reserve.
William Fox Pitt and Piggy French have other horses selected as direct reserves should any injury befall their first choice partner.
The residential team training over three days next week takes place at William Fox-Pitt’s Stuminster Newton base. King said: “It will be training in the day with team dressage trainer Tracey Robinson, showjumping trainer Peter Murphy, and Yogi Breisner will also be there. The evenings will be taken up with admin and meetings.
British Eventing announced the team as: Kristina Cook - (41) from Worthing, West Sussex riding Miners Frolic, owned by Mrs Sarah Pelham, Mr Nicholas and Mrs Valda Embiricos
William Fox-Pitt (43) from Sturminster Newton, Dorset riding Lionheart, owned by Mr Jeremy and Mrs Judith Skinner
Georgina [Piggy French] (31) from Lubenham, Leicestershire riding Jakata owned by Mr Wally French and Mr Michael Underwood or DHI Topper W, owned by Mr Wally French and Mr Michael Underwood
Mary King (51) from Sidmouth, Devon riding Imperial Cavalier, owned by Mrs Janette Chinn and Mr Edwin and Mrs Sue Davies
Zara Phillips (31) from Stroud, Gloucestershire riding High Kingdom, owned by Gleadhill House Stud Ltd
Between the five selected riders the eventing team contains a wealth of experience; this will be Mary King’s sixth Olympic Games; William Fox-Pitt’s fourth and Kristina Cook’s second. Although Zara Phillips and Georgina French will make their Olympic debuts in London 2012, they are also no strangers to championship call ups for their country.
Kristina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King were all members of the GB eventing squad that won team bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where Kristina also scooped the individual bronze on Miner’s Frolic. The same trio were then part of the team that won gold at the 2010 World Championships, where William Fox-Pitt took an individual silver medal.
Zara was crowned individual World Champion in 2006 but missed out on her Olympic dream in 2008 when her horse Toytown suffered an injury prior to competition. She is now back at the top of the sport with High Kingdom, a horse that she has brought up the ranks from novice level.
Georgina French (more commonly known by her nickname Piggy), won individual silver at the 2009 European Championships and was also part of the 2011 European Championship team that won bronze alongside team mates Fox-Pitt and King. Piggy also won the Olympic Test event in Greenwich in 2011.
Equestrian Team Leader, Will Connell commented: “It’s been a challenging spring with a number of events cancelled and great credit is due to all the riders who have had to reflect this in their plans. It has also been a challenging time for selectors. The team we have now nominated to the BOA is crammed full of athletes that have proven medal winning ability at European, World and Olympic level. I offer my congratulations to them, their support teams and their horse’s owners and look forward to working with them during the final push to the London Olympics.”
Eventing Performance Manager Yogi Breisner commented: “It’s great to now have names on the team sheet and I look forward to working with them to put final plans together for Greenwich.”