Gillian Rolton ended the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games with a broken collarbone and broken ribs - and her second gold medal in a row. Rolton was a member of the winning three-day equestrian event team, along with Andrew Hoy, Phillip Dutton and Wendy Schaeffer. She suffered her injuries when her beloved mount Peppermint Grove fell and skidded during the endurance phase of the event. She remounted, unaware that she had suffered the fractures, and rode on, now unable to use her left arm. She and the horse came down again at the next obstacle, a water jump, and she somersaulted into the water. She then waded out, boarded the horse again, and galloped for another three kilometres, clearing 15 more fences, to finish the course. An ambulance took her to hospital, where she refused pain-killing drugs because she felt she might be needed for the final team jumping round the next day. She wasn’t, but Rolton’s gallantry served as an inspiration to her fellow riders, and the entire Australian team.
Rolton was given her first horse at the age of 10, and began riding competitively soon after. She was a late inclusion in the Barcelona 1992 team, also with Peppermint Grove, after beating all male members of the team in the final selection trial at Savernake, England. The Australians, Matt Ryan (who also won the individual event), Hoy and Rolton, were in second place behind New Zealand for the final team jumping phase. One New Zealand rider had a disastrous round, and the Australians all rode with poise to win the gold.
Harry Gordon, AOC historian