Olympic equestrian events kick off in Hong Kong

August 9th, 2008 - 9:40 am ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, Aug 9 (Xinhua) The equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games kicked off in the Sha Tin venue here Saturday. Mark Todd, two-time Olympic gold medalist from New Zealand, was the first competitor to ride into the venue.

“I really could not have hoped to have done anything better than that at this stage of career. I am delighted with it,” Todd told journalists after completing his round of action.

Todd, 52, who was voted Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation, won the individual three-day event at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and again in Seoul in 1988.

His return for his sixth Olympics after an eight-year retirement strengthens the chances of the five-man New Zealand squad in the medal race.

“It’s a little bit hard getting myself to the back and gear. Honestly, being here doesn’t feel like being away at all. Eight years slipped by very quickly.”

More than 200 athletes from 42 countries and regions will compete for six team and individual gold medals in the 11-day events.

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