Saturday 20 January 2018

Zara Phillips aims for first gold for Team GB in eventing

Zara Phillips rides High Kingdom as she competes in the Eventing Cross Country equestrian event
Zara Phillips rides High Kingdom as she competes in the Eventing Cross Country equestrian event

David Young

ZARA Phillips will jump for glory with fellow riders from Britain's eventing team today as they reach for Team GB's first gold of the Olympics.

The Queen's granddaughter can expect a rapturous reception from the home crowd at Greenwich Park as she takes part in the showjumping finale of the tightly-fought competition, with first place still very much in sight.

That golden dream has already come true for 15-year-old swimming sensation Ruta Meilutyte after the Lithuanian schoolgirl, who lives and trains in Plymouth, last night stole the heart of her adopted country with a spectacular win in the women's 100 metres breaststroke final.

Her breathless victory and emotional post-race interview instantly secured her status as a darling of the London Games.

Those memorable scenes in the Aquatics Centre were played out shortly after GB's men's gymnasts wrote their own names into the Olympic history books.

Their dramatic bronze was the first British medal in the event for 100 years, and their women counterparts hope to emulate that success when they go for glory in the team gymnastics final today.

Britain hold silver medal position in the team eventing competition behind reigning European champions Germany coming into this morning's action.

The last time Team GB won an Olympic team eventing gold was in Munich 40 years, when Captain Mark Phillips - Zara's father - was a competitor.

Phillips and her fellow equestrians were cheered on yesterday by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, her cousins Beatrice and Eugenie and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Phillips, a former world champion, produced a commanding performance on her Olympics cross-country debut as the GB eventers kept their hopes of gold alive.

After her win in the pool an incredulous Meilutyte, who attends the same school as diver Tom Daley, was left almost lost for words as she tried to absorb what she had done.

"I cannot believe it," she told the BBC afterwards. "It's too much for me."

Looking at the camera and speaking in Lithuanian, she told her father in Plymouth: "Thank you. I love you."

It was a very different story for her fellow pupil at Plymouth College.

Daley and Pete Waterfield were left deflated after missing out on a podium place in the synchronised 10m platform final.

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