State funeral for Aussie equestrian great Gill Rolton

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Gillian Rolton and her Olympic horse Peppermint Grove (Fred), pictured in 1992.
Gillian Rolton and her Olympic horse Peppermint Grove (Fred), pictured in 1992. © FEI / Equestrian Australia

A State funeral is to be held for Australian double Olympic eventing gold medalist Gillian Rolton, who died on November 18 at the age of 61.

The funeral for Rolton will be held on Monday at 1pm at Victoria Park, the home of the Adelaide International Three-Day Event which she ran for 10 years.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said Rolton’s achievements deserved to be honoured. “Gillian Rolton leaves an incredible legacy and a State Funeral is an appropriate way to pay tribute to a truly exceptional South Australian,” he said.

Rolton made a huge impact on the sport of Eventing, both as a top competitor and as a lifetime active advocate for the sport.

She was part of Australia’s gold medal winning team at Barcelona in 1992 and in 1996 in Atlanta. She achieved much notoriety at Atlanta after slipping on the flat at the half-way mark of the cross-country course and falling from her horse. She broke her collarbone and ribs but soldiered on and remounted only to fall again at the next water jump. Despite her injuries, she completed the 6000m course and posted a team score.  This helped the Australian team of Andrew Hoy, Wendy Schaeffer and Phillip Dutton to win gold.

Rolton also served on the FEI Eventing Committee from 2011 to 2015 and, as Director of the Australian International three-day event in Adelaide, developed the event to the highest level as one of the FEI Classics series, which grouped together the world’s six four-star events. Her many influential administrative posts in Australia meant that she was a huge influence on the growth and development of the sport.

“The loss of Gill to cancer has devastated so many people in the Eventing world,” Catrin Norinder, FEI Director Eventing and Olympic said.

“She was a truly special person who had time for everyone and who gave so much back to the sport she adored. Her successes on the field were mirrored by her incredible input on the administrative side on so many levels. Her passing leaves a huge void that will be difficult to fill.”

FEI President Ingmar De Vos called for a minute of silence at yesterday’s FEI General Assembly in Uruguay for members of the equestrian community who had been lost in the past year, including Rolton.

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