28 years later: Australian showjumper an Olympian for first time since 1988

28 years later: Australian showjumper an Olympian for first time since 1988

Six Olympics have passed since showjumper Scott Keach made his only appearance for Australia at the 1988 Seoul Games. A record 28 years later, Keach will return to Olympic competition after being selected on Thursday for the equestrian team in Rio.

The 51-year-old breaks the national mark for the longest time between Games appearances, held by sailors Karyn Davis-Gojnich and Nicky Bethwaite, who competed in 1988 and 2004. Keach and his horse Fedor and Edwina Tops-Alexander and her horse Caretina De Joter were confirmed as Australia’s early selections for Brazil.

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Incredibly, Keach will be competing in a different discipline than he did in Seoul after moving from eventing to showjumping four years ago. Born in Tasmania, Keach made his Games debut in the eventing team alongside Andrew Hoy, Barry Roycroft and David Green.

The team finished fifth and he was 23rd in the individual competition in 1988. Keach is determined to make a better fist of his second Olympic experience. “Looking back it would have been ideal to have another two years of competition under my belt,” said Keach, who was 23 in Seoul. “I was young and inexperienced for international competition. The end result was disappointing.”

He and Fedor have been in good form, winning the highly-rated Ocala Grand Prix in Florida in February and he knows he has a horse that is well suited to the Olympic challenges. “We bought Fedor in Europe three years ago as a fairly inexperienced horse and I’ve produced him up to Grand Prix level,” Keach said. “Things started falling into place two years ago and that is when the Rio Olympics became a real focus.”

Keach had a break from the sport in the early ‘90s and after moving to Florida seven years ago started riding seriously again. He and Tops-Alexander were part of the team that qualified the Australian jumping team for Rio at a regional qualifying event in Germany last year.

Tops-Alexander was delighted with her selection and also thrilled to see Keach back at the Olympics. “I think it’s fantastic and he deserved to be selected. He has experience on his side and he has also recently gained some very strong results,” she said. The 42-year-old Tops-Alexander has competed at two Olympics and this month won the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Miami.

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