Gold medallists can come from all sorts of backgrounds, but rarely has there been as unlikely a winner as Charlotte Dujardin, who became Britain's first individual dressage Olympic champion amid joyous scenes at Greenwich Park yesterday.
If the 27-year-old's British colleague, Laura Bechtolsheimer, fitted the stereotype you might expect of competitors in this sport – the bronze medal winner is the grand-daughter of a property billionaire – Dujardin showed that determination and talent can bring their own rewards.
Yesterday's triumphs completed a remarkable fortnight for Britain, who until last week had won only one Olympic equestrian gold medal since 1972. Until this week Britain had never won an Olympic medal of any colour in dressage.
The Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen mounted the strongest challenge. The music chosen by earlier riders had ranged from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake to Phil Collins' "Dance into the Light" and the Black Eyed Peas' "Mas Que Nada", while Dujardin, the last to perform, chose a medley of popular tunes from film soundtracks, including The Great Escape and Live and Let Die, and, to finish, Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance.
It was a thoroughly entertaining routine, spoilt only by a mistake near the end. The judges, nevertheless, awarded her 90.089 per cent, which was nearly 2 per cent higher than Cornelissen's score. It was an Olympic record and only the third score in history above 90 per cent.Reuse content