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Shining silver

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Tuesday, 31 July 2012
The sun shines gently in Scotland as I collapse in a heap after four days of watching the Olympic three-day-event. I rush up to the field and gaze at my own dear mare, who, despite her stellar breeding, would laugh in my face if I asked her to do a flying change. The discipline of three day eventing never fails to amaze me. The horses are trained to a peak of fitness, so that they can last four miles across country, but are then expected to dance into the ring and perform the delicate, controlled movements of dressage. After the hurly burly, the exhaustion and the mad dash of the event course, they must then take flimsy show jumps seriously. Even the best riders sent poles crashing at this stage, so much had been demanded of their concentration and stamina.

Dear old Team GB could not quite get past the mighty Germans, who were in danger of confirming all their national stereotypes with a performance of such efficiency and accuracy that it was hard to believe they were executing it on the unpredictable animal that is the horse. But the Brits were magnificent, and Olympic silver is a stunning achievement.

I got especially excited about Mary King, who is fifty-one years old, competing in the only Olympic event where men and women go up against each other on equal terms, and for whom age is no obstacle. Fifty-one is not old in life, but in any athletic sport it is positively geriatric. Yet there she was, glittering and shining for her country, showing the young ones how it is done. I found something inexpressibly moving and inspiring about that, especially when all the media tells the older ladies is that they have too many wrinkles and must rush at once to the Botox needle.

Mary King patently does not give a stuff about Botox. She is absolutely brilliant at what she does, and has more important things to think about than the lines on her face.  My suspicion is that her only vanity may come in the perfection of her extended canter. She should be driven round the country as a role model for young girls, a perfect example of why it is better to be a brilliant athlete, fulfilled in your chosen field, than to get your face stretched by a surgeon’s knife.


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