August 18, 2008 / 5:52 PM / in 12 years

Ian Miller rolls back the years with silver

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Aged 61 and at his ninth Olympics, Canadian showjumper Ian Millar became the oldest medalist of the Beijing Games on Monday.

Ian Miller riding In Style clears a jump during the equestrian jumping individual second qualifier at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Millar and his team mates took silver in the team show jumping. It was very nearly gold, but his team were piped by the United States in a jump-off.

“It’s tremendous. I’ve been riding in the Canadian team for 39 years but the Olympics have never quite gone my way and so this is a remarkable thing,” he said.

Millar’s silver made him the seventh oldest person to win an Olympic medal and oldest ever medal winner in equestrian.

The team show-jumping competition ended with a nail-biting jump-off between equestrian arch-rivals the United States and Canada after the two teams tied on penalties at the end of two earlier rounds.

Millar, who rode the anchor leg for the Canadians, scored a clear final round on the challenging course.

“You do it long enough it gets a little numb ... and you know very well that you’ve really got to control things,” said Millar who started riding when he was 10.

The veteran rider has competed in nine Olympics since 1972, each time with a different horse, a Canadian record. He missed the 1980 Games in Moscow because of Canada’s boycott.

“Each Olympics has its own special memories, but I guess what’s really interesting to me is the evolution of the sport,” said Millar, one of the oldest competitors at the Beijing Games alongside Japanese rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67.

“When you see this group of horses and riders and what they can do, it’s magic. The journey has been fantastic.”

Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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