The incredible Mr Jung

Michael Jung makes yet more history with Sam, claiming his second Olympic gold medal


Astier Nicolas (silver), Michael Jung (gold) and Phillip Dutton (bronze) (Image: Jane Thompson)
Astier Nicolas (silver), Michael Jung (gold) and Phillip Dutton (bronze) (Image: Jane Thompson)

Michael Jung is a deserving Olympic champion again. He finished the Rio Games on his dressage score and that is what really counts. You can’t do any more than that, and this time it was enough to win, as riders in front of him after dressage fell by the wayside.

Michael said that this was a very special moment for him. “He is a fantastic horse. I am very proud of him. He is strong cross-country, he will run every hill and jump every fence. We have a big partnership.”

Michael Jung and the magical horse, Sam. (Image: Jane Thompson)
Michael Jung and the magical horse, Sam (Image: Jane Thompson)

Sam is notorious for getting nervous, he never stands still at presentations, and can sometimes be difficult to get into the arena. “The horse is very nervous of spectators and other horses, but I give him a quiet feeling so he has no pressure from outside.”

Michael said that he, too, was very nervous today but that he “gave him a good feeling in the warm-up” and you’d never have known it from the way he rode around both show jumping tracks, as cool and contained as you like.

The medals won in the eventing today by the Germans – team silver to go with the individual gold – were the first of the Games for Germany, so the news was huge. “It is good for our sport; our country is very happy.”

Michael was very quick to thank all the people who helped him.

His two medals clinking together around his neck (how must THAT feel?), he’s now planning to celebrate tonight. “I think we will have a nice evening in the German Olympic House, it is close to the beach and my family is there, a lot of friends and the whole team, for sure. I think we will enjoy this evening.”

An individual gold and a team silver for Michael Jung today (Image: Jane Thompson)
An individual gold and a team silver for Michael Jung today (Image: Jane Thompson)

Michael is staying in Rio for two more days. He isn’t sure whether he will go and see some other sports, but thought, “Maybe we will sleep in a bit longer tomorrow.”

Has he got enough room in his trophy cabinet for the two new medals? “For this one, of course.”  All we can say is that he must have a big cabinet!

Michael has won every eventing title worth winning and has now equalled Sir Mark Todd’s Olympic record of consecutive gold medal wins on the same horse – and become the only rider in history to do so both times on his dressage score. He is also the only rider to have won both the World Championship and two Olympic titles, and on the same horse!

As Sam is now 16, it is highly unlikely (never say never, but…) that he will be able to go for a third tilt at winning in four years’ time in Tokyo. Will it be the last time we see this amazing champion horse on the world stage?

The individual silver medal winner was Astier Nicolas, on Piaf de B’Neville, who made just one mistake in show jumping, crashing on to an oxer in the second round – though this didn’t affect the outcome at all. Astier has lived for some time in England but has now moved back to France, although he intends regularly travelling to the UK to compete.

Astier Nicolas, who won individiual silver to go with his team gold (FEI)
Astier Nicolas, who won individual silver to go with his team gold (FEI)

Phillip Dutton won his first individual medal, bronze, on Mighty Nice, and salvaged some pride for the Americans after their team failed to complete. At 52, he is the oldest athlete in the US team. Australians Sam Griffiths (riding Paulank Brockagh) and Christopher Burton (riding Santano II) were fourth and fifth, with our two riders, Clarke Johnstone and Sir Mark Todd sixth and seventh. Jonelle Price ended up 17th individually.

Two riders absolutely delighted with their top-10 finish were China’s Alex Hua Tian riding Don Geniro and Irishman Jonty Evans on the very lovely Cooley Rorkes Drift. Both of these horses are class acts, and their placings were well deserved.