Tears of joy as show jumper Fraser takes gold
The tears were flowing but the ear-to-ear smile said it all. Emily Fraser (NZL) simply could not stop crying after taking the individual show jumping gold medal following a thrilling jump-off.
New Zealand's Emily Fraser (centre) is flanked by silver medallist Martina Campi (left) and third-placed Jake Hunter, from Australia
“I just hugged my horse, I was so excited, and I burst into tears,” said the ecstatic young Kiwi. “I’ve never cried this much but I’m the happiest person alive.”
Fraser, watched by her own fan club of friends and family, kept her emotions in check to deliver the first double-clear round of the event.
She then had to wait for six rivals who had also posted zero faults during the first round on Saturday, 23 August.
It turned out to be Rivera Meza, who scored two faults on Con-Zero and saw her medal hopes disappear.
Fraser, riding Exilio, said: “I knew one person was going to be the unlucky one and I just hoped it would not be me. I had a strategy to go clear and do an all-right time.
“It was really nerve-racking. I kept my head and tried to handle my nerves. I just rode for my life.”
Fraser had to go first in the jump-off and again she went clear. Her time of 39.75 seconds was solid but not spectacular.
Eventual silver medallist Campi, riding Darina, matched Fraser and every eye in the Xinzhuang Equestrian Venue was fixed on the clock. The Argentine recorded 39.95.
A minimum second place was guaranteed for Fraser, and gold was duly delivered when final rider Hunter collected four faults.
The Australian bronze medallist was still delighted with his performance on For The Star, however, and now plans to move to Europe “to fly the Australian flag there”.
He said: “I couldn’t be happier. My horse jumped fantastically. She’s only young and to make the jump-off on a really tough track is fantastic. In the jump-off she got a bit tired but she gave it everything she had.”
Europe may have won gold in the inter-continental team competition earlier in the week, but of the nine first-round clears in the individual competition, only one came from that continent – Ireland’s Michael Duffy.
The course was testing, but not overly so, according to Hong Kong China’s Chiang Lennard, who followed up his clear first round on DJ with eight faults in the second.
Chiang, who is also heading to Europe to pursue his career, said: “It was a technical course, the jumps were a decent height and for some horses it was difficult.
“But there were only eight jumps and it was up to standard. It shouldn’t be too easy at this level.”