With a career that has spanned four decades, show jumper Nick Skelton has been one of the major front runners of the sport with prize winnings totaling over GPB 6 million. At 58, he is the oldest equestrian to have ever won an Individual Gold in show jumping at the Olympics, he may also be the most broken. Skelton, who began riding aged 18 months on his first pony called ‘Oxo’ who was born in the same year as him broke his neck in September 2000 nearly ending his show jumping career, however post retiring in 2001 he recovered and began competing again in 2002. Other severe injuries he has overcome include broken shoulders, broken legs and having a hip replacement in 2011.
A legend in his own right, Nick has represented Great Britain in seven Olympic Games. His first Olympic medal came at the London 2012 games when Britain took the team Gold Medal. At Rio 2016, Skelton jumped his heart out aboard ‘Big Star’ to win the Individual Gold creating history as he became Team GB’s oldest gold medalist since 1908. In a thrilling competition which culminated in a six horse jump-off, Nick and ‘Big Star’ were one of only two combinations to go clear, beating Peder Fredericton and ‘All In’ against the clock to claim Gold.
In a post ceremony interview Nick said, “I am not going to stop now. I only ride ‘Big Star’ at the moment. When he stops, I will stop. For definite. I have been in the sport a long time. I am so happy – it was amazing. I was just emotional on the podium because I am so happy with what I’ve done. To do it now is unbelievable. It is pretty emotional for all concerned.” After his Olympic win, Nick is a 50/1 shot with the bookmaker, to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
A few personal insights:
Family: Two sons Daniel and Harry with his first wife Sarah and both are active in horse racing.
Partner: American show jumper Laura Kraut, a gold medalist herself in Beijing 2008.
Book: An autobiography, ‘Only Falls And Horses’ (The sales of the book have leaped after his Olympic Gold).
Idol: British show jumper David Broome
Hobbies: Horse Racing
Sporting Philosophy: “Don’t give up”
Favourite TV Series: British television series 'Only Fools and Horses'.
Awards: In 2012 he was awarded an OBE by The Queen for his services to equestrian sport.