At this point, Andrew Hoy is a record-breaking machine: after winning silver as part of the Australian eventing team and individual eventing bronze at this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, he’s become Australia’s oldest Olympic medallist at age 62; he’s won more Olympic gold than any other event rider; and with six medals to his name, there are only two other event riders who have matched his tally. His horse, Vasilly De Lassos, was the fastest horse in the Tokyo field and if that wasn’t enough, Andrew holds Australia’s record for most Olympic appearances (Tokyo was his 8th Olympics!) – only four people in the world have a higher count.
Andrew’s eventing career could fill a book (let’s hope it does one day!), but here’s a quick run-down to give you an idea of why and how he has become such a legend.
Born on his family’s farm in Culcairn, New South Wales in 1959, Andrew could was riding competitively at age seven. His uncle loaned him a horse, his aunt gave him proper riding lessons and his father answered the phone when, in 1978, the powers that be asked Andrew to be on the Australian team for the first-ever World Three-Day Event Championships in Kentucky, USA. Six years later, aged 25, he competed in his first-ever Olympic Games, finishing 15th in the individual and 5th in the team events. Four years later at the Olympics in Seoul, he finished 8th in the individual and 5th in the team events.
The breakthrough came in Barcelona in 1992, when Andrew won team gold with Matt Ryan and Gillian Rolton, and placed 5th individually. In 1993, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to equestrian sports. That same year, Andrew moved to England, where his various bases included the illustrious Gatcombe Park, home of The Princess Royal, Anne, herself an Olympic equestrian. This was followed by a truly unforgettable performance as part of the eventing team in Atlanta in 1996, which earned the whole team a place in the Equestrian Australia Hall of Fame. It’s a story in itself, and you can read all about it here.
In his home country in 2000, Andrew again helped the Australian eventing team win gold and nabbed a silver medal for his individual performance. After marrying German event rider Bettina Hoy in 2001, the pair became the first and only married couple to compete against each other in different teams for the same Olympic medals!
The Athens and London Olympics didn’t offer up any medals for Andrew, but he had plenty of other successes between then and Tokyo. After six attempts, in 2006 he finally won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials; and at the time of writing he has clocked up four World Championships and two Burghley Titles alongside his six Olympic medals. In 43 years of international competition, it’s estimated that Andrew has ridden over 180 Four Star Rounds.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Vasilly De Lassos, who Andrew describes as a ‘once in a lifetime’ horse, flew through the cross country and the jumping inside the time limit with no penalties, finishing on his dressage score of 29.60 to earn individual bronze and team silver. And Andrew has no intention of putting his ‘ginger unicorn’ out to pasture:
“I’ve got my eyes set on 2032 — Brisbane. Big incentive to get there. We will wait and see. Vassily is going really well,’ he said in a post-awards ceremony interview, adding, ‘While I’m healthy I will continue doing what I love doing.’
What an absolute champion! Do you know any great stories about Andrew Hoy, globetrotters? We’d love to hear – share them with us in the comments!
Image credits: Tokyo 2020 photos by Australian Equestrian Team/Libby Law Photography; Los Angeles 1984 photo by Virginia Hill on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0); preview image by Thomas Le Floc’H on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (cropped & brightened from original).