The only openly gay Olympian in Team GB has helped his equestrian team secure gold at the London Olympics.
Carl Hester rode Uthopia in the dressage’s Grand Prix Special at Greenwich Park.
The team, which included Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin, celebrated the country’s twentieth gold medal of the games, strengthening the host nation’s place third on the board.
Hester, 45, won a team gold and two individual silver medals at the European Championships in Rotterdam last year but this is his first Olympic medal.
Raised on Sark in the Channel Islands, which has no cars and where horses are therefore one of the main methods of transportation, in 1992, Hester became the youngest British rider to represent the country at the Barcelona Olympics.
He was formerly in a relationship with international dressage rider Spencer Wilton, who in 2009 the media speculated could have been a factor in the breakdown of the marriage between Katie Price and Peter Andre after he was seen with the former glamour model, who is known for her love of horse-riding, until it was revealed Wilton was gay.
Sark’s only post box will be painted gold in Hester’s honour.
Hester told the BBC’s Clare Balding: “I know it’s an old cliché but it’s a culmination of so many years of dreaming about it and it finally happening. Both those girls are cool customers. […] There it is, we finally won it.”
He added: “As with every sport that’s won a gold medal at these Games, it’s shot our sport into a totally different league.
“This is my fourth Olympics and it’s actually a weird feeling for me because three Olympics I’ve gone with no expectations and it’s actually quite easy to ride like that.
“To come to an Olympics where we were expected to get a gold gave me a frightening feeling – and I enjoyed it.
“I am looking forward to it all being over, to get the individual competition out of the way now, but it’s a truly special minute for everyone in British dressage.”
He will return to Greenwich tomorrow to compete in the individual Grand Prix Freestyle.
Hester is Britain’s only openly gay Olympian, but Lee Pearson will compete in equestrian events at the Paralympics while Claire Harvey will represent the country in the women’s sitting volleyball.
There are now 23 confirmed openly gay Olympians competing at London, about 0.16 percent of the total number of athletes.