London 2012

Smith hails showjumpers

Silver medallist delighted with 'fantastic achievement'

Last Updated: 06/08/12 11:03pm

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Ben Maher: Paid tribute to his former trainer Steven Smith

Ben Maher: Paid tribute to his former trainer Steven Smith

Great Britain's showjumpers won their first Olympic medal for 28 years on Monday - and 1984 team silver medallist Steven Smith watched proudly as they did it.

Smith, son of famous former British showjumper Harvey Smith, was in the quartet beaten to gold by the United States in Los Angeles alongside John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker and Tim Grubb.

But it has been an Olympic tale of misery since then, with Britain's best team result until Monday's unforgettable gold medal triumph being a sixth-place finish in Seoul.

"I think the thing about showjumping is that it's very unpredictable, but I watched that today, and it is a fantastic achievement by the British team."
Steven Smith Quotes of the week

"The medal is long overdue, to be honest," said Yorkshireman Smith, now a highly-regarded showjumping coach. "We've had chances before but haven't quite been able to do it.

"I think the thing about showjumping is that it's very unpredictable, but I watched that today, and it is a fantastic achievement by the British team.

"Hopefully, it can now help spark more interest in the sport in this country."

Smith used to coach one of the London 2012 British team members Ben Maher, and Maher paid tribute to his former trainer after landing Olympic gold alongside Nick Skelton, Scott Brash and Peter Charles.

"Steven Smith was my trainer at 11, 12, 13-years-old, and then I came back to him around the age of 22," Maher said.

Confident

"I've had a lot of good trainers, and I owe a lot to Steven. He taught me a lot about staying confident and trying to be a winner."

Three months ago, Smith's brother Robert caused a stir in British showjumping circles when he wrote off medal chances.

While Smith, an experienced international rider, talked up Skelton's Olympic chances, he was not complimentary about team hopes in general.

Speaking in April, long before the British team for London was picked, Smith said: "I think Nick is outstanding at the moment with two outstanding horses in Carlo and Big Star.

"But I think the rest are mediocre, if I am honest. I think Nick has got a very strong chance. He's got two very good horses, both Olympic prospects that are both very capable, but after that I think you are really scratching.

"A lot of people make a lot of flowery statements, saying everything is upbeat, but if you look around the top grands prix and Nations Cup events, then we've lost too many horses for my money."

Asked about Smith's comments at the post-event press conference in Greenwich Park, Maher said: "You are never going to win anything if you're that negative.

"We just proved today that we have good enough owners to support us and we have good enough horses. We did it, basically."

And Skelton added: "We did well with a mediocre bunch."

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