New Zealand eventing Olympian Blyth Tait has announced that he is retiring from the sport at the age of 58.
Tait announced his retirement this week at New Zealand’s Horse of the Year Show, where he is competing in several showjumping classes.
Whilst eventing is no longer on the radar, Tait is still keen to pursue his love of showjumping for “a bit of fun”.
“I’m out there to have a bit of fun… put it this way, if it’s raining I will be going home!”
Only last year Tait was looking to make an eventing comeback for the Tokyo Olympics, but after a less than satisfactory build-up, the four-time medallist has called time on his eventing career.
“The likelihood of me competing again overseas is unlikely. I’m very happy to hand over the reins to the younger ones coming through and I support them fully. There is a bright future and still some serious young talent out there,” Tait said.
Born in Whangarei, Tait has ridden from an early age. By 1992 he held the World No 1 ranking, a position he maintained for a decade — at the height of his career eclipsing even his teammate Mark Todd. Individual gold on Ready Teddy at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, team silver at Barcelona, two Olympic bronzes and twice winner of the prestigious UK Burghley Horse Trials has etched Tait’s name firmly in New Zealand sport’s history books.
“I’m not really one to reflect much on what’s been, I like to keep moving forward. I’ve met some of the most fantastic people in the sport, and travelled to some of the most amazing places to compete, all born out of an original love of horses and the excitement of competition. Competition is about managing pressure and your mental approach,” Tait said.
“To have been successful for so long, I can look back with satisfaction. But it does take an enormous amount of hard work and 110 percent commitment, now that I’m older it’s hard to sustain.”
Many career highlights
Tait is one of only four New Zealanders to have won at least four Olympic medals and was awarded the Lonsdale Cup by the New Zealand Olympic Committee in 2001.
He was a Halberg team award winner in 1998 and team flag-bearer at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
“Winning the World Championship for the first time in Stockholm was surreal, I was new to the international scene on a horse that came from Northland.
“It was everybody’s dream to go to other side of the world and win, that was the icing on the cake.
“Eight years later, I won the World Champs again in Rome which was even more satisfying once you know what it takes to achieve that, and realise the enormity of it. Both World Champ wins were very significant in my career as they enabled me to become a professional.
“But the Olympic gold medal — that’s the pinnacle. Representing New Zealand on a bigger scale would have to be my biggest achievement.”
After the 2004 Athens Olympics, Tait took on the role of Eventing High-Performance Manager for Equestrian Sport New Zealand. He is now also working as a cross-country course designer.