Canadian Olympic team member Ian Millar enjoyed a top ten finish in the individual showjumping final at London 2012 on Wednesday, rounding out his record-making 10th Olympic appearance.
Finishing tied for ninth place riding Star Power with a total of eight faults, Millar, 65, had his best ever individual Olympic result. Millar and the 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding owned by Team Works incurred four faults in the first round at fence number five, an airy white plank, and had the ‘b’ element of the triple combination in the second round of competition.
“There are so many subtleties to this thing,” said Millar of the demanding tracks set by course designer Bob Ellis of Great Britain. “The rider and the horses are so good, and the course designer has to be so good. The competition is really against the course designer.”
Before London, Millar’s best Olympic result to date had come at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he placed 13th riding Dorincord. He also placed 14th individually at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and 15th at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, riding Big Ben on both occasions.
“Each Olympics stands out well on their own; London is outstanding,” said Millar, who has now competed in more Olympic Games than any athlete in any sport, debuting at the 1972 Munich Olympics. “The public have been so supportive and sympathetic. I am very much a team rider, and I would have liked more team company with me today.”
Millar and 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze were the only two members of the team to advance to the individual final. The top 37 athletes from the original starting field of 75 qualified for the two-round final.
Lamaze, 44, of Schomberg, Ontario, incurred 12 faults in the first round and did not advance to the second and final round of competition. He tied for 29th position in the final individual standings.
“I didn’t wake up this morning seeing myself on the podium, so I am not disappointed,” said Lamaze, who was riding the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Derly Chin de Muze, owned by the Fleischhacker family’s Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable.
“She’s jumped a lot of big tracks this week, which she’s not used to, and maybe it was just fatigue. She’s young, but she gained experience and came out of this a better horse.”
Lamaze continued, “These were supposed to be Hickstead‘s Games and when the tragedy happened, we just didn’t have time to prepare.”
Hickstead collapsed and died of an aortic rupture last November while competing at a world cup qualifying event in Verona, Italy. Under 2012 Olympic Games qualifying rules, horses must be registered in the ownership of the nation they will represent by December 31, 2011.
On Monday, August 6, the Canadian team of Tiffany Foster, 28, Jill Henselwood, 49, Lamaze and Millar, finish fifth in the team final from the starting field of 15 nations. Great Britain won team gold while the Netherlands claimed team silver. Saudi Arabia won team bronze, and Switzerland placed fourth.