PALGRAVE -- The question of the weekend at the John Deere Canada Cup equestrian championship was whether nine-time Canadian equestrian Olympian Ian Millar stick around for a 10th Games in four years time in London.
Yesterday he answered with a resounding "yes" as he won the final day's $100,000 Tournament of Champions on In Style -- the only rider and horse to complete the course without a fault.
Immediately afterwards, Millar said that he had made up his mind to compete at least four more years for Canada to hopefully improve on the silver medal he won at the Beijing Games.
"I still have the will to do it," Millar said.
"No one likes to see an athlete compete when his best days are behind him, but I still have the passion and the horses to jump at the top levels in the world."
The 61-year-old native of Perth, Ont., was honoured along with members of the 1968 Canadian gold-medalwinning equestrian team by tournament officials just prior to his perfect round.
Jim Day, who captained that team in Mexico City, said afterwards that Millar is an anomaly in sports.
BETTER WITH AGE
"You are not supposed to be this good at his age," Day said. "But I'll tell you, he's better now than he was in that first Olympics and every time I see him, he's still getting better."
While Millar dominated yesterday's action at Caledon Equestrian Park, it was not enough to overcome the lead that Erynn Ballard had built up over the previous two days aboard Robin Van Roosendael.
Ballard, of Hillsburgh, went into yesterday's show jumping with a 26-point lead over Millar and despite getting four jumping faults, held on to place fourth, enough to win her first overall competition as a professional.
"It is a real honour to win at this level at any time, but this year, after the success Canada had in Beijing, I want to aim at a berth on the team in 2012," she said.
Amy Millar, Ian's 31-year-old daughter, needed only to have a faultless ride, as she had on Saturday, to beat both her dad and Ballard but her horse, Costa Rica Z, suffered through an eight-fault round, dropping her to sixth place.
"As soon as I saw that Amy had eight faults, I knew that I could miss one jump and still win," Ballard said. "Starting last put a lot of pressure on us, but we did it."
Jenn Serek placed second yesterday with Bottom Line while Kim Farlinger completing the podium, riding to third place aboard Cordoba.