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Page last updated at 14:25 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 15:25 UK

Townend has eyes on 2012 Olympics

Oliver Townend
Shropshire-based Oliver Townend is hoping to be at the London Olympics

European gold medallist Oliver Townend is targeting a place in Britain's equestrian team for the 2012 Olympics.

"I'm training hard and hopefully I'm one of the definites for London," the 26-year-old told BBC Radio Shropshire.

"I'm preparing as many horses as I can and whichever one comes to the fore at that time will be going there."

Townend, who won at Badminton and Burghley this year, was part of the GB team that took a record eighth title at the European Eventing Championships.

And he would love to still be part of the British team when the Olympics come round in three years' time.

"I was always very determined and a little bit bull-headed," says North Shropshire-based Townend.

"It possibly never crossed my mind not to get there at some stage, but it's great that it's come together so quickly."

And, although he would be 16 by then, he hopes that his Badminton horse, Flint Curtis, will still be around for 2012 too.

It's been hard work on the way, but I hope this might help inspire others to come into the sport

Oliver Townend

"It will probably be his last year eventing," added Townend. "But, if he's still good and healthy and sound, then there's every chance he could be there.

The great New Zealand rider, Mark Todd, won gold when Charisma was 16," so who knows - Flint Curtis could win his first at the same age," he added.

Townend moved to Gadlas Farm, at Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere from Leicestershire about a year ago, and now has 36 horses on his yard. Yet, although following in the hoofprints of his father (who rode at Burghley) and his mother (who rode side saddle at county level), he did not actually start riding until he was 11 when he started working as a stable boy.

"I certainly wasn't from a normal eventing background," he said. "We didn't really particularly have a lot of money.

"And it's been hard work on the way, but I've had very, very good jobs. And I hope this might help inspire others to come into the sport."



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