Move Over Murray, Nick Skelton is our Hero
Andrew Murray was last night, for a third year, crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016 with our equestrian hero, finishing a respective third. However in our eyes, for now and perhaps a long time to come, Nick Skelton will take the unofficial title for his dedication, despite adversity, to the sport of equestrianism.
Skelton, 58, began riding at only 18 months old. Since a young age he has consistently provided equestrian sport with dedication, resiliance, althetisism (despite injury) and a natural ability in the saddle. He enjoyed his first competitive win during 1975 in the Junior European Championships riding Okay.
The Warwickshire based rider has enjoyed competiting in European Championships, World Championships and two Olympics Games; a career spanning a period of over four decades. During 2012, where he helped Great Britain bring home a Team Gold in the London Olympics, post boxes in his town and neighboring villages were painted gold in his honour.
Leading up to his nomination for Sports Personality of the Year, Skelton and his formidable ride, Big Star, brought home an individual Gold for Great Britain, during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Nick Skelton and Big Star. Image credit British Showjumping
Success despite adversity
Disaster struck during September 2000, when in his prime, Skelton had a near fatal accident. He fell from his horse and broke his neck whilst competing. Recovery began although he was left devastated after being told he would never ride again. After a two year break, and consulting with a German surgeon he discovered the ligament that he had severed during the fall was recovering. It wasn’t long before he was back in the saddle eager to prove he was still a force to be reckoned with.
Once fighting fit Skelton took the ride of Arko III, a young horse he’d been working with before his fall. He and Arko enjoyed many a Grand Prix success over the years to come, which began in 2002 until the stallion retired to stud in 2008.
In 2010 the rider, who had already endured significant unfortunate injury, had his hip replaced due to wear and tear.
In 1978, Skelton set the World High Jump Record reaching 2.32m at The London International Horse Show, Olympia; a record that he still holds to this day.
Skelton is currently enjoying the ride of three horses, all owned by Beverley Widdowson; Big Star, Carlo 273 and Unique.
As we head into another year, we wonder what 2017 will hold for not only Skelton but his team of exciting team of International horses.