Eventful Times at the Olympics

19 July 2016

On the Olympic programmes since 1912...

...Eventing has seen many twists and turns over the past 104 years with new formats (with or without steeplechase, endurance phase, etc), amateurs vs professionals, military vs civilians and the arrival of women and gender equality on the Eventing scene. 

With just a few weeks to go before the Rio2016 Olympic Games, and effectively the 24th time Eventing is on the programme, we look back at the individual Eventing champions, who they were, where they came from and what this says about Eventing…

Sweden have the most individual Olympic Eventing medals to their name

(4 in total) but these all happened between 1912 and 1956, so 2016 marks 60 years since their last Olympic Eventing gold. And there is a very good chance they could reset the balance in Rio with Sara Algotsson Ostholt, silver medallist at London 2012.  

The Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand all have three individual Eventing wins to their name. For the Netherlands, all three wins happened in a row in 1924, 1928 and 1932; Germany spread its wins over several decades from 1936 to 2012 whilst New Zealand was top of the individual Eventing podium in the eighties and nineties. Both Germany and New Zealand have some very strong contenders at Rio2016 – including former winners Michael Jung and Mark Todd, so these statistics are very likely to change once the Games come to an end.  

Quite a few nations have two individual wins to their name, including: France, Australia, Italy, Great Britain and USA. Again, many strong contenders from these nations will be @Rio2016, so lots of room to move in this category. 

Oddly enough, there are no nations that have won an individual Eventing gold medal just the once, which brings the tally of nations to have won over the past 100 years to just nine. 

No nation has won an individual Eventing gold medal just the once

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!

As hard as it may be to believe, there has never been an individual female Eventing gold medallist at the Olympic Games. Of course, the gents did get a head start as women only began competing in Eventing at the Olympic Games in 1964. 

The first women to climb onto the individual Eventing podium at the Olympic Games were Karen Stives of the USA (silver medallist) and Virginia Holgate Leng from Great Britain (bronze medallist) in Los Angeles 1984, who also won bronze @Seoul1988. They opened the door to a handful of determined women that nearly but never quite made it to the top spot, including Sally Clark (NZL) and Kerry Millikin in 1996, silver and bronze medallists respectively; Kimberley Severson (USA) and Pippa Funnel (GBR) in 2004, again silver and bronze; Gina Miles (USA) and Kristina Cook (GBR) in 2008, again silver and bronze; and in 2012, once again in second and third place, Sara Algotsson Ostholt (SWE) and Sandra Auffarth (GER). If one looks closely, for the past three editions, women have taken second and third place on the individual podium – so it is definitely about time they take the next step… 


But only time will tell…!