Great Britain’s eventers moved quickly to grasp the positives after they ended without an Olympic team medal for the first time in 20 years.
The great Rio adventure did not see destination reached as Britain finished fifth, way off the medal pace, despite William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell, Kitty King and Gemma Tattersall all posting showjumping clear rounds, with Tattersall collecting four time penalties on Quicklook V.
It was not enough to compensate for Monday’s cross-country woes when all four riders had run-outs — or to give team manager Yogi Breisner a winning send-off in his final Olympics — but Fox-Pitt and Funnell have pointed to a bright future.
“It was really great to finish on a good note after the disappointment of Monday,” said Fox-Pitt, who finished 12th individually as the only British competitor among the top 25.
“With a bit more luck, we would have been up there. We just didn’t have that luck with us.
“It is a very up and down sport, and we had a down day yesterday. It was very, very expensive and very disappointing.
“But it is very exciting for the future with the young horses we have in what is a very strong team. Maybe it is going to be Tokyo 2020 for us. I keep on dreaming.
“You need that bit of luck on the day, and we didn’t have it.”
And Funnell said: “I know we were disappointed with Monday, but we all picked ourselves up. We are all in it together and here for each other.
“The overriding thing is we are gutted that we didn’t deliver better for Yogi, because he has put so much into the teams all these years, and it is so sad for his last one that it got away.
“For sure, there are going to be critics and we can go home and we can think about the ‘what ifs?’ But I still think people have to be impressed with how the younger horses went.
“We were beating ourselves up about it last night, there is no doubt about it.
“But we can’t stew on it too long. When we look at the (cross-country) rounds back on the video, I actually think our rounds were a lot better than some of the rounds that were clear.”
There was a dramatic finish to the team competition, with France claiming their second Olympic gold after New Zealand and Australia both had gold medal chances, but first Mark Todd had four fences down aboard Leonidas II, quashing New Zealand’s hopes, then Chris Burton and Santano II knocked two poles down when they needed a clear to take the crown.
German master Michael Jung and the brilliant Sam FBW retained the Olympic individual title — they became the first combination to achieve that feat since Todd in 1988 — as they claimed a comfortable win from Frenchman Astier Nicolas in second and American Philip Dutton third.
Image: William Fox-Pitt focused on the positives of his Rio experience, by FEI/Dirk Caremans