• Bunce on Olympics

The Truth

Steve Bunce August 1, 2012
Mary King played her part in GB's push for silver © PA Photos

On the BBC the other day Mary King was described as a 'commoner', which is a bit strong in my opinion, during the silver-medal day at Greenwich in the Equestrian Team Event. Yes, the one where the Princess hit all the fences and nobody said that she cost the team gold.

Medal Table

London has been King's sixth Olympics and it was her third Olympic medal, adding to the silver in the team event from Athens and a bronze in the same event four years ago in Beijing. I think 'commoner' was a bit out of order and I'm sure that she would have been happier with 'old bird on a horse'. Her age will not, I hasten to add, be mentioned by me.

A long time ago, well a month or so before Athens, I went to see King, Pippa Funnell, Williams Fox-Pitt and various lunatics from the world of eventing; trust me when I tell you that this little mob are fearless - and standing by a cross-country jump at the top of a hill as woman and beast come over is frightening.

The talk that day, just like the talk at Greenwich a few days ago, was all about the horses. It's a basic but closed language to the uninitiated and it goes something like this: "I've been offered Hardknuckle Rub, by Dark Lord out of Little Gem but I'm happy with Apache Sauce, by Endaway out of Saucy Secret." It's their personal jargon and is as close to Cockney nonsense speech as I've heard for a few years. I have, it has to be said, heard a lot of nonsense spoken.

King once famously said that she was not interested in wealth, but would settle for 'fame' and I think she deserves her moment in the sun. Three medals from six games puts her in elite company; not quite on the Redgrave cloud but a lot higher up than archer Alison Williamson, who has now been to the Olympics six times and won just the one truly heroic bronze in Athens. What a day was: Williamson took on the Chinese and Koreans on her own, knocking off the top seeds like a sniper to win the bronze. She was like Rambo that day and arguably his odds were often better.

Williamson is a decade younger than King and possibly has her sights -get it - set on Istanbul in 2020, where it is rumoured that the Games after Rio will end up. King will just keep on going as long as the horses keep on coming; it's a business, you see and a medal only adds to the stock of the horse.

So King is a London 2012 medal winner, a rarity at the moment in the GB team, where the panic is just starting to show.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.