Charlotte Dujardin, Team GB’s most decorated female Olympian, has revealed that her mother delayed a medical operation to watch her win one of her record-breaking medals.
The two-time dressage bronze medallist from the Tokyo Games told the PA news agency it was a “surreal moment” to overtake rower Dame Katherine Grainger, adding: “I felt just as emotional winning these as I did my golds.”
Ms Dujardin won a medal in both the team dressage and the individual dressage on her young horse Gio.
She has now won six Olympic medals, said she is already looking ahead to the next Games in Paris in 2024, and is hopeful of increasing her tally.
Reacting to her achievement, she said: “It’s incredible, I can’t quite believe it.
“On the first day, when I medalled and equalled up with Katherine Grainger – that was just an incredibly proud moment in itself.
“Then to medal again in the individual and beat that, and now be the most decorated female… I can’t quite believe it. It’s a very surreal moment.
“They felt like gold to me. I felt just as emotional winning these as I did my golds.”
Ms Dujardin previously won two golds at the 2012 London Olympics and a gold and a silver at the 2016 Rio Games.
Asked if she will be pushing for more success at future Olympics, she told PA: “As long as we’re fit and healthy and have the horses.
“I’m currently training up to 10-11 horses a day – so I have a lot of horses coming up behind Gio, looking forwards to the other Olympics.
“I’m already thinking of Paris and what can happen in Paris – a few more medals and who knows where it’s going to go and where it’s going to stop.”
Since arriving back in the UK, the 36-year-old has been to visit her mother in hospital with her medals.
“My mum’s been poorly – she’s been in hospital,” she said.
“I actually went to hospital with my medals to see my mum and celebrate it with my mum there.
“She was actually due an operation on the Monday but she told the surgeon he wasn’t allowed to operate until she’d watched me compete.
“So, yes, it was fantastic to see her.
“My dad bought every newspaper that was in sight and he said to me ‘Charlotte, I literally sat there and read them all with a box of tissues and cried my whole way through, and I’m immensely proud of you’.
“That means the world when you hear that from your family.”
Asked whether the Tokyo Games had been different from her previous experiences, Ms Dujardin said: “For me, it will definitely be an Olympics I will never forget – standing on the podium with my mask on, getting on the horse with my mask on, have pictures with my mask on.
“It’s not like every Olympics you’re going to have but it will definitely be one for my family to look back on in many years and say that’s what I did.”
Speaking of how many more medals she can win, Ms Dujardin said: “I truly believe there’s many more Olympics in me and I’m just going to keep going.
“Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a fighter and I love winning.
“When you get selected to go to an Olympic Games, you feel so honoured to be able to represent your country and be there.
“When I’m there, I just want to win and do the best I can and hopefully, with many more years to go in the Olympics, there will be a few more medals.”