Years of hard work and 6am starts finally paid off when the Queen's granddaughter stood on the Olympic podium proudly clutching a silver medal presented by her own mother Princess Anne. If there were any doubts that Zara Phillips had earned her place on Team GB's equestrian squad they were silenced by three days of competition.
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She finished eighth overall in the individual event, beating the scores of world No 1 William Fox-Pitt and their colleague, Nicola Wilson. The silver was awarded for the team event, while gold went to the Germans.Never one for extravagant emotion, the Princess Royal, herself an Olympian, did allow herself to savour her daughter's moment of triumph, saying: "She did very well".As she carefully placed the silver around Zara's neck, Anne, a member of the 1976 Montreal team, must have cast her mind back to her own Olympics campaign which ended without a medal.The Princess pulled her daughter close for a kiss on both cheeks, in contrast to the handshake offered to the other medallists, prompting the 31-year-old to comment: "Oh Mum".Afterwards, Zara joked at a press conference: "Whatever you do, don't ask me what it was like to have my mother present me with the medal. Obviously it was amazing."
It was a rollercoaster day for the champion athlete. Team GB rode into the third and final day of competition in second place, partly secured through Zara's faultless cross country performance on Monday.Unfortunately, when it came to Tuesday's showjumping she knocked down a fence, meaning Britain was out of the running for a gold. They held on to the silver because of clear rounds from Tina Cook, Mary King and William Fox-Pitt.A wave of euphoria swept through Greenwich Park, south east London when Tina, Britain's final rider, cleared her last fence.And Zara's royal supporters, consisting of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, lead the celebrations, William in particular raised his hands.
Ever the perfectionist, his cousin blamed herself rather than her mount High Kingdom. "I made the mistake it was my fault," she said. "[The horse] must have been thinking: 'I wish your mum was riding'." No one can have as harsh opinion as she does herself. Her achievements have made history since she becomes the first royal Olympic medallist.