Double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin has cemented her place in the history books as the most decorated British female Olympian of all time, winning a bronze in the individual dressage – her sixth Olympic medal.
Dujardin and her horse Gio, riding together in their first Olympics, danced their way to legendary status in the Grand Prix Freestyle at Tokyo Equestrian Park, having won gold at London 2012 and in Rio 2016 on her horse Valegro.
On Tuesday Dujardin won a record-equalling fifth Olympic medal as Great Britain took bronze in the team dressage final – with the 36-year-old joining Olympic veteran Carl Hester, 54, and newcomer 25-year-old Charlotte Fry, whose late mother, Laura, competed for Great Britain at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
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Dujardin’s collection of three gold medals, one silver and two bronze moves her ahead of the five medals won by British rower Katherine Grainger and tennis player Kathleen McKane Godfree.
It was perhaps too much to ask for the double Olympic champion to win a third gold on a new horse, but the fan-favourite looked as delighted as if she had topped the podium after finding out she had taken bronze.
It was a tense final few minutes of the competition, as she waited for the scores to come in for Germany’s Dorothee Schneider final performance – but Dujardin could not be unseated.
A fiercely impressive display from the German team saw Jessica von Bredow-Werndl score 91.732% to take gold on TSF Dalera on her Olympic debut ahead of compatriot Isabell Werth, who holds the record for the most Olympic medals won by any equestrian athlete and took silver with 89.657% on Bella Rose II.
In soaring temperatures, Dujardin gave a near faultless display on the relatively inexperienced Gio, also known by his significantly less formal name of Pumpkin, because he arrived at her stables around Halloween.
She scored 88.543% with a series of tight and energetic piaffes – the term for when the horse is in a collected and high-footed trot – and canter pirouettes, which see the horse perform a tight circle.
Gio, who Dujardin co-owns with Renai Hart and Carl Hester, had just three international Grand Prix starts under his belt before to travelling to Tokyo and was not the original choice to compete in an Olympic Games, but the Equestrian GB felt he would be best suited to the hot and humid conditions.
Smaller than an average dressage horse, he stands at just 16 hands, and Dujardin has previously called him a “pocket rocket”, saying “he may be small but he is definitely mighty”.
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