Britain's Ben Maher wins Olympic show jumping gold

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Gold medallist Ben Maher of Team Great Britain poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the equestrian jumping individual final at Tokyo Equestrian Park in Japan on Wednesday. (Julian Finney/Getty Images - image credit)
Gold medallist Ben Maher of Team Great Britain poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the equestrian jumping individual final at Tokyo Equestrian Park in Japan on Wednesday. (Julian Finney/Getty Images - image credit)

Britain's Ben Maher, riding Explosion W, won a six-rider jump-off to take Olympic gold in the equestrian show jumping individual final on Wednesday.

Only six riders of 30 in the final jumped cleanly and under time to qualify for the jump-off to determine who would take home a medal.

Maher and Explosion W were the third-last pair to jump at Tokyo Equestrian Park, whisking through the course in a blistering time of 37.85. Sweden's Peder Fredricson and his horse All In, silver medallists together at the Rio Games in 2016, were a close second in a time of 38.02.

Maikel von der Vleuten and Beauville Z took the bronze in 38.02.

After the competition, Maher said he was "relieved it's done," and praised his horse as the best in the field.

"I'm biased, but I believe I am on the best horse. He's an incredible horse and I'm very fortunate to be able to ride him," Maher said. "And with that comes pressure ... and just little comments here or there that normally I don't pick up, but are kind of sitting in the back of my mind all the time."

Fredricson said he wanted to improve on his silver in Rio and take gold in Tokyo, but his second-place finish still feels "amazing."

"But on the other hand, my goal was to take gold, but it feels a bit greedy to stand here and say that," he said.

All six riders in the jump-off — three of whom were from Sweden — posted double clean rides, so it came down to the time. Riders in the jump-off had 45 seconds to complete the course.

Maher is Britain's second straight Olympic champion in the event, following Nick Skelton who won gold in Rio.

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Malin Baryard-Johnsson, another of the three Swedish riders to qualify for the jump-off, was looking to become the first female Olympic champion in a discipline in which men and women compete against each other. She finished fifth in the jump-off in a time of 40.76 after having gone second and setting a fast pace for the rest of the riders to beat.

Canada's Mario Deslauriers, aboard Bardolina 2, did not qualify for the jump-off, having completed their ride in the final with 13 penalties, including coming in five-tenths of a second over time.

He finished the competition in 22nd place. Deslauriers, 56, was Canada's only rider in the competition, and Canada will not compete in the team jumping competition later this week.

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