Michael Jung and Germany set the gold standard at the equestrian arena on Tuesday, winning the individual and team three-day eventing titles.
The Germans, coached by Yorkshire-born Chris Bartle, defended their Beijing team gold with hosts Britain fighting off New Zealand for silver in a tense conclusion to the final jumping session.
In front of stands filled to their 20,000 capacity, Jung’s clear round, after equally faultless displays from teammates Dirk Schrade and Sandra Auffrath, gave the 2008 winners an unbeatable lead with 13 riders still to jump.
Jung then created equestrian history, winning the individual competition to become the first rider to hold the European, world and Olympic eventing titles, all this on the day he turned 30.
“You always dream that when everything goes perfectly you can win gold, but I never dreamed I’d have two,” he grinned, weighing the two bright medals hung around his neck in the palms of his hands. “Now I’m going to have dinner with my family, and then party.”
Sara Algotsson-Ostholt of Sweden, who suffered wretched ill luck as she was on target to become the first woman to take the title, only for her gray mare Wega to knock the top pole off the final fence, took the silver.
That heart-wrenching blunder left her with a combined total after the dressage and cross country of 43.30 points, behind Jung on 40.60.
“Shit happens,” she shrugged.
Asked at the post-event press conference to elaborate on what had gone wrong, the Swedish rider said: “At the triple combination before the last fence I told her [Wega] to be careful, to slow down.”
“I tried to do the same at the last, but she didn’t react so quickly and was too fast at it, and just put down a toe,” she said.
As the Swede approached the last with one hand on the gold medal, Jung, watching from the stands having already gone clear, recalled: “I was very happy with my second place — but now my first place is even better.”
There was a sense of deja vu at Greenwich Park as four years ago Germany also picked up both titles, with Algotsson-Ostholt’s husband, Frank Ostholt, part of the team event.
Individual bronze went to Jung’s compatriot, Sandra Auffarth, with 44.80 points, with Australian veteran Andrew Nicholson, appearing at his seventh Games, in fourth.
Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II and a member of the Britain team that had clinched silver earlier with the 13th in line to the throne making one mistake at the second fence, put in a faultless round to briefly lead the standings.
She eventually finished eighth, four places above New Zealand’s former double Olympic champion Mark Todd.
Phillips was supported by Prince William and his wife, Kate, Prince Harry, her mother, the Princess Royal, and Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla.
She accepted the blame for the one mistake she and High Kingdom had made in the team event.
“It was my fault, not his, I’m really proud of him,” she said, referring to her horse. “I messed up and just had to get on with it after that. At least we didn’t knock any more down, he jumped fantastic after that. I wanted to get the best score for my team.”
Phillips, whose father, Captain Mark Phillips, was on the last British team to win team gold in Munich, Germany, in 1972, added: “It was disappointing to miss out on the title, but the minute the silver medal was hung around our necks [by her mother] it was all worth it.”