Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mark Todd (equestrian)
From small pony club beginnings he went on to win two Olympic Games gold medals, (the first rider to win successive individual three-day-event titles for 60 years), and also won two bronzes. He won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials on three occasions and the Burghley three-day trials five times. He also won gold medals as a member of the New Zealand team at the world championships in 1990 (Stockholm) and 1998 (Rome), plus 20 or more other international events.
He won back-to-back gold medals on Charisma at Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul 1988. Charisma was a 16 year old when he won the second gold, and he was only the second horse to win two individual gold medals.
As a youngster, Todd went through a succession of broken bones and tears in pony club events, but he was passionate about horses and persevered. He considered becoming a jockey but quickly grew to 6 ft 2 in which forced him into show jumping instead. Although he was a lanky lad with a high seat, he impressed with his elegant riding and the uncanny rapport he quickly fostered with his mounts, even those he had never ridden before. He was able to coax exceptional jumping feats from some horses which other riders had decided were not worth the effort.
After gaining a Diploma of Agriculture at the Waikato Technical Institute , Todd decided to move to England where he mucked out stables and began to earn event rides. As a total unknown, he entered and won the 1980 Badminton trials on Southern Comfort, and from then on became the most successful individual eventer in equestrian history.
Todd was a popular sportsman in his home country, as were the numerous horses he rode, but especially Charisma, the small Anglo-Arab horse which was retired to a Waikato farm and died aged 30.
Todd, who had married Carolyn Berry in 1986, retired from eventing following the 2000 Sydney Olympics to his Rivermonte Farm near Cambridge to breed horses and concentrate on several business ventures, including the manufacture/retail of harness and other tack. He has become a familiar face at race tracks where his thoroughbreds have enjoyed success.
In 2000, the Sunday Mirror tabloid accused Todd of being a homosexual and a cocaine user. It published photographs, purportedly of Todd, showing him snorting cocaine with another man. Todd appeared on the Holmes television program to discuss the allegations, but refused to explicitly deny them. The incident caused considerable embarrassment in New Zealand sporting circles, although it remains unclear just how much truth was behind the allegations. Todd remains married to his wife and still enjoys a good reputation.
Todd's autobiography, So Far So Good, has become a popular seller among the international equestrian scene.
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