Australian Eventing Olympic Gold Medalist Gillian Rolton Passes Away at 61

Michael Jung accepts his ribbon from Gillian Rolton at Luhmühlen 2014. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Join us in honoring the life of Gillian Rolton, who passed away today at the age of 61 following a battle with cancer. Her passing came at 3 p.m. during cross country day at the Australian International Three-Day Event in Adelaide, of which Gillian has been event director for the past 10 years.

Gillian competed in two Olympic Games, at Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. She helped Australia to team gold at both Games riding Peppermint Grove. Her first gold at Barcelona was a milestone in Australian eventing as she became the first Aussie female to medal at any Olympic Games or World Championships. Memorably, in the 1996 Games, she broke her collarbone and ribs when Peppermint Grove fell cross country but remounted and completed the course.

Gillian was a member of the Equestrian Australia Hall of Fame, in 2000 was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and was one of eight flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the 20000 Sydney Olympics. After retiring from competition, her dedication to the sport continued as a coach and official, serving on the ground jury at the 2012 London Olympics and heading the jury at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy. She has also been active as the EFA National Young Eventing Rider Squad coach as well as an Australian eventing team selector.

Gillian had been battling endometrial cancer for the past two years. When the cancer was discovered to be terminal in September, she was admitted to the hospital in Adelaide, where she continued her work on the organization of this year’s Australian International 3DE from her hospital bed. We are glad she lived to see this year’s event successfully and happily underway.

We thank Gillian for all of her contributions to the sport, and the entire EN team sends its most sincere condolences to the Rolton family today.