ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MARCH 08:  Athletes Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah (R) attend a Great Britain team press conference and photocall ahead of the 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships at the WOW Hotel on March 9, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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British Olympic legends receive knighthoods, damehoods

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LONDON (AP) — Andy Murray received a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth II‘s New Year’s Honors list on Friday, recognition from the monarch for reaching the pinnacle of tennis by winning his second Wimbledon and Olympic titles on his way to topping the rankings.

The 29-year-old Murray was previously named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in 2012 after becoming Olympic champion for the first time.

Joining Murray in being knighted in British sports is Mo Farah, who retained his Olympic 5000m and 10,000m titles in Rio, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals.

“I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honor from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight,” Farah said Friday. “Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today — it’s a dream come true.

“I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career.”

Lee Pearson, who won his 11th Paralympic gold in equestrian in Rio, was also knighted. He already held the MBE, OBE and CBE for services to equestrianism and to disabled sport.

Damehoods went to heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger, who both retired from competitive action following the Rio Olympics.

Ennis-Hill added silver in Rio to her gold at London, as did Grainger, who came out of retirement to compete in the double sculls alongside Vicky Thornley.

Knights are addressed as “Sir” or “Dame.” Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their names. The ranks for the Orders of the British Empire are Commander, Officer and Member, in descending order.

Britain’s honors are bestowed by the monarch, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.

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Jessica Springsteen’s confidence rises with ‘most talented horse’ of her life

Jessica Springsteen
International Equestrian Federation
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Jessica Springsteen believes she found the horse that can help her accomplish long-term show jumping goals, such as qualifying for her first Longines FEI World Cup™ Final, World Equestrian Games and Olympics.

Springsteen, the daughter of famous rocker Bruce Springsteen, has been riding Cynar VA for about one year, not an incredibly long time, but is already gushing.

“He’s definitely the most talented horse that I’ve ever had,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Springsteen has been competitive in U.S. jumping for several years despite her youth (she turns 25 on Dec. 30). She was the 14th-ranked rider in the final standings when the four-rider 2012 Olympic team was announced.

By April 2014, Springsteen had risen to No. 2 on the U.S. Equestrian rider/horse list before the horse, Vindicat W, was sidelined by leg tendon problems.

The injury severely harmed Springsteen’s Rio Olympic chances as her rider/horse ranking plummeted. This past April, she did not make the short list of 10 rider/horse combinations for U.S. Olympic team consideration.

Still, Springsteen is younger than all but two U.S. Olympic jumping riders from the last four Games. And she still has plenty of promise.

In September, Springsteen won her first five-star Grand Prix, the biggest victory of her career. She’s now fifth in the U.S. jumping rankings. The top four riders are all Olympians and all at least 10 years older.

Springsteen hoped to reach the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha in April, but her results in early qualifiers have not been as strong as she hoped.

Springsteen and Cynar VA placed seventh in Toronto on Wednesday, while U.S. Olympians McLain Ward and Kent Farrington went one-two, followed by four non-Americans.

“Even if I don’t make it next year [to the final], there’s always that year after,” she said, emphasizing that Cynar VA is still a “newer ride” for her.

Springsteen can’t possibly put her finger on 2020 Olympic chances so far out, especially given what happened in the last cycle.

“It’s so hard in this sport because everything goes into timing,” she said. “You have to have the right horse at the right time, and you have to be performing really well. The horse I have right now definitely has the ability. He’s a true championship horse.”

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Great Britain’s Skelton takes gold in equestrian individual jumping, USA’s Farrington 5th

Gold medalist Nick Skelton, of Britain, poses for photos during a medal ceremony for the equestrian individual jumping competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Great Britain’s Nick Skelton, appearing in his seventh Olympic Games, made history Friday afternoon at the equestrian venue.

Skelton, riding Big Star, took gold in the individual jumping competition. And at 58 years of age, Skelton overtook Germany’s Klaus Balkenhol (team dressage, 1996) as the oldest Olympic gold medalist in equestrian history. Skelton now has two career Olympic gold medals, with the first coming four years ago in the team jumping competition.

With Skelton among six riders tied with no penalty points accrued there was a jump-off, with his time penalty (42.82) being lower than that of Sweden’s Peder Fredricson (43.35). Taking silver was Fredricson, with Canada’s Eric Lamaze taking bronze as a result of having a lower time penalty than Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat.

American Kent Farrington was part of the jump-off as well, ultimately finishing in fifth place. Ward McLain finished tied for ninth on four penalty points.