Maher determined to make for dismal team showing in individual showjumping final


Ben Maher admitted that redemption topped the agenda in Deodoro after he qualified for Friday's Olympic individual showjumping final.

Maher will be joined in the 35-rider competition by his Great Britain team-mate Nick Skelton.

The top 20 combinations after Friday morning's opening round - all riders start on zero penalties - will contest medals.

No British rider has ever won Olympic individual showjumping gold, with five previous podium finishes comprising two silvers and three bronzes.

The last British showjumper to win an individual medal was Ann Moore in Munich 44 years ago.

After Tuesday's team competition capitulation when Britain's Olympic title defence saw them crash out in round one - and then Michael Whitaker's ride Cassionato being admitted to a veterinary clinic after showing colic symptoms - Maher acknowledged that a response was required.

Cassionato is improving, while Maher and Skelton made their presence felt on another scorching day that saw a near-capacity crowd watch team medals being decided.

"We've had a rough week this week," Maher said.

"We really believed that we could come here and put in a good performance for the team, and things just didn't go our way yesterday. It just wasn't meant to be.

"Myself and Nick are trying to redeem ourselves, to keep us in it for Friday.

"Psychologically, it has been tough. You wouldn't have wanted to be in our apartment last night with the five of us.

"We each had an early night. I studied a few videos from yesterday and rode one or two fences slightly differently today.

"We had to come out and keep pushing, and the deal today was that we made the cut. We both got the job done, and we start on zero (penalties) on Friday."

Maher jumped brilliantly aboard Tic Tac, collecting just one time penalty, while Skelton had five faults on Big Star, but both did enough to progress.

"I feel my horse is jumping better as each day goes on, " Maher added.

"So if he keeps progressing from this, with a day off tomorrow, then I will be quietly confident on Friday. Hopefully, we will start on Friday from where we left off today."

Nick Skelton, riding Big Star, competes in the equestrian jumping competition
Nick Skelton, riding Big Star, competes in the equestrian jumping competition (John Locher/AP)

And 58-year-old Skelton, who is competing at his seventh Olympics, said of Big Star: "He jumped great. He just again got a bit unlucky.

"There is not a lot you can do when you have the middle fence of a combination down. He left the floor well, but just touched it.

"We all start on equal scores on Friday, which is different. The horse is jumping really well. He's not doing a lot wrong."