Mon, September 23, 2013

Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara Phillips wins silver medal

By PAUL MAJENDIE, Reuters


Britain's Zara Phillips, riding High Kingdom, clears a fence during the eventing jumping equestrian event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 31, 2012. (MIKE HUTCHINGS/Reuters)

LONDON - Some might say Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Now she can also boast a silver medal.

Phillips, daughter of two Olympians, has spent three days on what she called “an emotional rollercoaster” at the Games.

She has not had a moment spare, even to celebrate her first wedding anniversary on Monday with husband and former England rugby captain Mike Tindall.

The hopes of a nation were on her shoulders in this - her first - Olympics.

No pressure then.

Phillips has done well enough to make the cut for the individual eventing final later on Tuesday, but she is well behind the leaders and is unlikely to mount the podium again.

So is she ready to set her sights on Rio in 2016?

“Steady!” was the heartfelt reply after Britain took second place in the three-day team eventing.

Asked if she took any advice from her parents before embarking on the Olympic competition, she replied, quick as a flash, “Not really.”

Phillips is a former World and European champion and only the third rider in the history of the sport to hold both titles at once. She and her old champion Troytown carried the Olympic flame down Cheltenham racecourse before the Games.

Her mother, Princess Anne, was European champion back in 1971 and her father, Mark Phillips, won team gold at the 1972 Olympics and team silver in 1988 in Seoul.

She was kicking herself after knocking a fence down in the showjumping that wrapped up the event after the dressage and all the thrills and spills of the cross-country course, jumping with her appropriately named mount, High Kingdom.

“I messed up and had to get on with it,” she told reporters who clustered around afterwards. “He is a good jumper and he couldn’t get out of where I put him.”

What about the pressure of performing at home?

“I definitely think it is a help. The pressure is what you put on yourself to get the best score you can for the team.”

The cross-country certainly proved hair-raising.

“I was really happy that he came out and actually jumped pretty well because he lost both of his front shoes. To come out and do anything for me today (in the showjumping) was pretty incredible.”

Asked what it was like going from a wall of noise on the cross-country course to the pin-drop silence of the showjumping arena, she said: “It makes the noise of the poles falling even louder.”