Nick Skelton: Rio Olympics gold medallist show jumper retires

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The broken bones were worth it - Skelton

Show jumper Nick Skelton, who became Britain's second-oldest Olympic gold medallist with victory at Rio 2016, has retired from the sport.

The Warwickshire rider, 59, will appear for a final time at May's Royal Windsor Horse Show, to parade Big Star, the horse on which he won Olympic gold.

Skelton was competing at his seventh Games - 16 years after a broken neck forced his initial retirement.

"This sport has given me more than I could have ever hoped," he said.

"It is such a difficult decision to make, but I'm not getting any younger and it is nice for the two of us to end on the highest note possible.

"Thank you to all of the incredible friends and fans for your support - we are truly appreciative and humbled.

"And lastly, thank you to all of the horses I've ridden. You have provided me with opportunities one could never have imagined."

Breaking his neck and breaking records

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BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016: Nick Skelton on inspiring older athletes

Skelton broke his neck in a fall in September 2000 that looked to have ended his career, but he recovered enough to begin competing again in 2002. He has also had a hip replacement and two knee operations.

He began riding at just 18 months on a Welsh pony called Oxo, who was born in the same year as him and lived to the age of 39.

It was the beginning of a career that yielded 10 European and six World Championship medals and a World Cup title in addition to two Olympic golds.

Skelton holds the British record for jumping the highest fence, clearing over 7ft 7ins on Lastic in 1978, and won the Hickstead Derby three times in the 1980s.

He claimed team gold at London 2012 and in Rio provided Britain's first individual show jumping gold, and the first medal of any colour in the sport, since Ann Moore's silver 44 years earlier.

Skelton came third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016, behind triathlete Alistair Brownlee and winner Andy Murray.

In accepting the prize in December, tennis star Murray joked: "I've got a bone to pick with my wife because about an hour ago she told me she'd voted for Nick Skelton. Not smart from her with Christmas coming up."

Skelton was later asked whether he was aware Murray's wife had voted for him and responded: "I'm very pleased with her actually. But she didn't vote enough times."

Nick Skelton on his first pony Oxo
Skelton began riding at just 18 months on a Welsh pony called Oxo

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