May 1, 2019 / 6:39 PM / 5 months ago

Equestrian-'Captain Canada' retires from international showjumping

May 1 (Reuters) - Canadian Ian Millar announced his retirement from international showjumping on Wednesday following an illustrious career during which he set a record by becoming the first athlete in any sport to compete at 10 Olympic Games.

The 72-year-old, known as 'Captain Canada' to his legion of fans, set the record for Olympic appearances at the 2012 London Games and would have added to it four years later if his horse had been available for competition.

"Representing Canada many times over my career has been my greatest honour," Millar said in a statement.

"Each time I wore the red team jacket was very special to me, and the fact that I was able to share this experience with so many great riders is a testament to the quality of horsemen and horsewomen here in our country."

Millar captured his only Olympic medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, where he earned a silver in the team event at the age of 61. He achieved his best-ever individual Olympic result with a top-10 finish in London.

The Canadian's Olympic attendance record from 1972 to 2012 is blighted only by the 1980 Moscow Games, which Canada boycotted along with about 60 other countries boycott to protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Millar, a 12-time Canadian showjumping champion, had been set to represent Canada at the Rio Olympics in 2016 but pulled out because his top mount was still recovering from sinus surgery.

Among his 10 Pan-Am Games medals are four golds, including two for individual jumping.

Millar also donned the red coat for Canada at six world championships, where he was a member of three teams that finished in the top five, and twice finished in the individual top 10.

He was made a member of the Order of Canada - one of the country's highest civilian honors - in 1986 and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

"The bond formed between horse and rider is an amazing thing to experience, but the partnership has to be built the right way, with compassion, understanding, and care," said Millar.

"Over the past few years, I have found myself more and more drawn toward working with young horses and riders, and I am excited to expand my coaching to share my knowledge and passion with the next generation." (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)

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