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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Brits get golden backing
By Matt Majendie

(Left ro right) Pippa Funnell, William Fox-Pitt, Yogi Breisner, Sarah Cutteridge, Leslie Law
Britain have experience on their side in Athens
Great Britain are being tipped to walk away with double Olympic gold in the three-day eventing in Athens in August.

Britain won silver in the team event in Sydney four years ago and their best place in the individual event was Mary King's seventh place.

But team performance director Yogi Breisner told BBC Sport: "The gold is a more than realistic goal. We feel we can win gold in both events.

"Other teams will be wary of us but we need to be at our best to win it."

Britain's five-strong team includes three of the riders who won the team silver in 2000 - Jeanette Brakewell, Pippa Funnell and Leslie Law.

One of the other team members - William Fox-Pitt - has previous Olympic experience having ridden at Atlanta in 1996.

"It was great last time - they did very well to get that silver medal," said Breisner, who was also performance director for the team four years ago.

"But that's increased our appetite to go one better, especially as we're much more experienced now.

"Four years ago we had a fresh, inexperienced team. Now we are arguably the best in the world. You only need to look at the world rankings and see that we had the top two in the world rankings last year in Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt.

(From left to right) Ian Stark, Pippa Funnell, Jeanette Brakewell and Leslie Law celebrate winning silver in Sydney in 2000
Britain won silver in Sydney

"And William's addition to the team is a monumental boost to us."

Britain's main competition in the team event, according to Breisner, will come from the USA, New Zealand, Australia and France.

"And the list of possible contenders for gold in the individual is lengthy to say the least," added Breisner.

However, his biggest fear is not the competition but whether the British team's horses can stay in shape ahead of Athens.

"Horses going lame is always in the back of the mind," he said. "But I can't do anything about it.

"That said, all the riders when they call me now say 'Don't worry Yogi, everything is fine with the horse' before saying anything else.

"A lot can go wrong in seven weeks but we're in good shape at the moment and that's all we can hope for."

The heat in the Greek capital is the major obstacle between Britain and double gold, with temperatures expecting to make life difficult for both riders and horses.

Breisner added: "All our training is centred around the heat so we know what to expect. We'll be as ready as anyone."

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