Matt Ryan

Athlete Biography

Matt Ryan became the last Australian equestrian competitor to capture two Olympic gold medals in a single event when he won both the individual and team three-day event at the Barcelona Games in 1992. (Lawrence Morgan, of Australia, had won gold twice the same way at Rome in 1960). From 1912 to 1992 the two events were run concurrently, but from 1996 they were divided. Ryan, a former jackeroo and a draughtsman from Maitland, NSW, went on to become a triple gold medallist at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. He first collected gold in the team event in 1992 in company with Andrew Hoy and Gillian Rolton. At the end of the endurance phase, the New Zealand team had a strong lead over Australia, and seemed likely to extend it in the final team jumping round. Ryan was considered by some to be suspect in this discipline, having knocked over five fences while qualifying for the Games at the prestigious Badminton event in England. The rival who was fancied to beat him, New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, dislodged nine fences - the most of any competitor - and finished 16th. This meant that if Ryan could clear all but one jump, Australia would win both gold medals. Despite the pressure, Ryan and his mount Kibah Tic Toc, cleared all but the last obstacle. 

In Sydney in 2000, Ryan combined with Hoy, Phillip Dutton and Stuart Tinney to win the team event. The quartet led the competition from beginning to end. Afterwards they galloped through three victory laps, to the strains of the theme from “The Man From Snowy River.”

Harry Gordon, AOC historian