Double Olympic medallist Tom McEwen has hailed British eventing’s “incredible” strength in depth ahead of another major title tilt.
Great Britain ended a 49-year wait for Olympic team gold when McEwen, Laura Collett and Oliver Townend triumphed in Tokyo last month.
McEwen also took individual silver aboard Toledo De Kerser as Britain added Olympic success to the world team crown won in North Carolina three years ago.
Sights are now set on the European Championship in Avenches, Switzerland later this week, with only two countries – Britain (1970-1972) and Germany (2012-2014) – having previously held all three titles at the same time.
McEwen, Collett and Townend will not be competing at the Euros as their Tokyo horses – Toledo De Kerser, London 52 and Ballaghmor Class – take breaks following their dominant displays in Japan, and the British selectors will look at other leading combinations.
But Britain will still take an impressive six-strong group to Switzerland that includes reigning world individual champion Ros Canter, London 2012 team silver medallist Nicola Wilson, Rio Olympian Kitty King and 2019 Badminton winner Piggy March.
“The strength in depth is incredible – it is huge,” McEwen told the PA news agency.
Bring on Avenches! 🙌
4 days, 3 disciplines, 1 goal. The FEI Eventing European Championship is seriously close and we are BUZZING! Who will gallop to victory?
All eyes on the 23rd September! 👀 pic.twitter.com/BPYYR6rUKz
— The FEI (@FEI_Global) September 19, 2021
“The horses are fit and healthy, the riders are on form. It is a new team at the Europeans, and you wouldn’t want to bet against them.”
The Paris Olympics are less than three years away, and McEwen added: “The way the horses are going, they would be quite happy going again in three years’ time.
“They are fit, well and healthy, and they absolutely love what they do, and now that Team GB has got the gold in team eventing I think people are really going to be striving to do it again.”
McEwen’s feet have barely touched the ground since returning from Tokyo.
— Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (@BlenheimHorse) September 15, 2021
Along with Collett – who posted second and fourth-placed finishes at the recent World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany – and world number one Townend, McEwen was back competing within days of arriving home.
All three riders have a number of quality horses apart from their Olympic mounts, and the packed British calendar included McEwen and Townend claiming top-10 finishes at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, organised by The Jockey Club.
“Being noticed in the supermarket in Tetbury where I live is a little surreal, to be honest,” said McEwen, on life as an Olympic champion.
“There were balloons all the way down the road where I live when I got home, and the neighbours – never previously knowing why I get up at 5am most weekend mornings and get back at about 10pm and what I’ve been up to – have finally realised!
“It has certainly been different, but it has been incredible.
“When we were there in Tokyo, I was reading a lot of stuff online and you definitely felt the support from home. It was amazing to hear we were on the newspaper front pages as well.”
Reflecting on an emphatic gold medal triumph, he added: “All of a sudden, with the format for Tokyo we had a situation with three riders in a team and all scores to count – no drop scores – so it was full pressure.
“In the past, sometimes a mistake could happen, and the team would still be okay, as you had a drop score.
“It was very much down to the last fence in Tokyo because all it would take would be a trip and a stumble, and off you would come and it would change the face of everything.
“But the Games were everything I had imagined. Yes, there were the rules and regulations that we knew about, which were all absolutely correct, but it still felt special when you got on the field of play.
“I knew we had a great chance, which is quite a weird place to come in at for your first Games. It was everything and more.”