Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Greenwich Park, Greenwich, London
Date Started: August 5, 2012
Date Finished: August 6, 2012
Format: Two rounds. Four rider teams. Best three scores in each round determined team total. Separate competition.
Great Britain were regular visitors to championships medal podiums throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s but the team had not won a major title since 1989 and were considered mere fringe contenders behind more highly regarded nations like France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The British started well and qualified for the final round in joint second place behind surprise leaders Saudi Arabia as more fancied nations like Germany and France crashed out of the competition.
Although the Saudis performed well to eventually win the bronze medal it became clear halfway through the final that the championship would be decided between the Netherlands and Great Britain. The two teams matched each other clear round for clear round and mistake for mistake until it became apparent that the fate of the title would be decided by the final Dutch rider. The equation was simple – if Gerco Schröder had a four fault round then the competition would continue to a jump-off. Anything better and the Netherlands would take gold, worse and the honours would go to Great Britain. Schröder's horse, aptly called [London], knocked down the middle of the triple combination and the two teams moved on to a jump-off. When two of the first three Dutch riders made mistakes it meant that Peter Charles, who had been the weak link of the quartet so far, would clinch gold if he produced a flawless performance and that is exactly what he did to claim a first British gold in the discipline since 1952 in Helsinki. The outstanding performer was Britain's Nick Skelton who did not make a single mistake in all five rounds of jumping. At 54 he was the oldest Champion of the entire Games. A full generation earlier a 20-year-old Skelton had been robbed of an Olympic début and, with a much depleted field, probable medal by the decision of the British Equestrian Federation to boycott the Moscow Olympics.
These Olympics did much to emphasize the Dutch influence on the sport as all three medal winning teams were coached by Dutch nationals and three of the gold medal winning team's horses were exported from the Netherlands to Britain.