Rio Olympics 2016: Sir Mark Todd devastated as Kiwi three-day eventers miss out on medals
Sir Mark Todd hasn't decided his Olympics future after a disastrous final day by the veteran rider cost New Zealand an eventing medal.
Todd, New Zealand's most experienced Olympian contesting his eight Games in Rio and a holder of five medals, uncharacteristically dropped four rails in the team showjumping phase to see the Kiwi's tumble to fourth on Wednesday (NZ time).
Riding third after Jonelle Price had dropped two rails and Clarke Johnstone had gone clear, Todd could afford one rail to give New Zealand gold and even three would have been enough to see the team match their London effort four years ago and be third.
But Todd and Leonidas II couldn't deliver with France grabbing gold on 169.00 points ahead of second-placed Germany on 172.80 and overnight leaders Australia ending with bronze at 175.30.
There was irony later when the top 25 riders returned for a second showjumping round to determine the individual medals and Todd went clear to finish seventh. Johnstone dropped two rails to slip to sixth overall, a commendable effort in his first Olympics, while Price dropped two rails to end 17th.
The individual gold medal was won by Germany's Michael Jung, only the third rider to complete back-to-back victories after his London 2012 success. Jung went clear again to finish the event on his dressage score of 40.90.
France's Astier Nicolas took silver on 48.00 and Phillip Dutton (US) claimed the bronze with 51.80.
A clearly disappointed Todd said it was too early to discuss his competitive future and trying to contest the next Olympics at Tokyo 2020.
"I haven't made that decision yet, we'll see," Todd said as the competition finished and the Kiwis dissected a day of missed opportunities.
"I will get home, let the dust settle and then see what I am going to do.
"It wasn't quite fairytale ending we had been hoping for. It has been a real roller coaster but that is how the sport goes. A couple of hours ago it was a very different story. But that's horse competition. It is what it is ... you have to take the ups and downs and that was a downer."
Team high performance coach Erik Duvander said Todd had given so much to New Zealand equestrian and its teams, and he there was nothing to stop that continuing.
"He is riding well and looking fresh . . . I can't see any reason why he would retire. He is quite a unique person," Duvander said.
Todd said it was pleasing to finish on a clear round individually and claim another top 10 finish.
"That was more the horse I know ... but it was too little, too late."
Todd, whose medal haul included individual golds in 1984 and 1988, could only apologise for his team effort, labelling it one of the worst efforts in a celebrated career that has earned him titles around the world and kept him at the forefront of his sport for more than three decades.
"I am very disappointed. That will be one of the biggest lows in my career," he said.
"We put ourselves in a medal position - Jonelle jumped a nice round with two down, Clarke jumped a great clear round.
"It was there. If I'd jumped a clear round we were looking at possibly gold.
"Winning another medal was really important. To have it slip away at the last minute was devastating."
Todd told how it unfolded: "After the first rail down, I thought 'don't panic, stay calm, we've still got a medal'.
"Then the next rail came down, then the next one. Then it was just like survival to get home."
"My horse is normally a good jumper but he went out and froze in the atmosphere. There was nothing much I could do, I tried to relax him and stay calm, but he kept putting his head up and hollowing his back. It was awful.
Todd knew he was in for a struggle in the morning when he found his 12-year-old gelding wasn't his usual relaxed self.
"I knew just before I came down, the horse started getting a little bit agitated," Todd said.
"Then when I came down into the arena, he was just not relaxed and looking around.
"He was a little bit wild, and the further he went the worse he got - he just went rigid in his back and stopped jumping."
Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo knocked down two rails for eight faults in opening, then Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation followed up with a clear round.
The duo rattled a couple of bars, but none fell and Johnstone finished comfortably under time.
"He touched quite a lot of the jumps, which he wouldn't normally, but I think it's fair to say I was gripping the reins a little bit tighter than I normally would."
Earlier, Price and Faerie Dianimo clipped the final jump in the treble, then knocked the following fence to finish on eight faults.
"She typically is a really good jumper, it's a bit disappointing to have two down," Price said afterwards.
- Stuff and NZN