Nick Skelton produced a brilliant final round to claim British gold ©Getty Images

Nick Skelton held his nerve in a thrilling finale to the men's jumping competition today to become Britain's first Olympic champion in the event and the oldest gold medallist of Rio 2016 so far.

The 58-year-old prodiced two clear rounds at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro to secure a spot in a six-rider jump-off for the medals.

Riding first, he used all of his experience to complete the course in just 42.82sec on his mount Big Star.

One after another his rivals proved unable to match him as he hung on to add this gold medal to the one he won in the team competition at London 2012. 

“I have been in the sport a long, long time and to win this now at my age, I’m so happy, it’s just amazing!" Skelton said.

“I was emotional [on the podium] because I am so happy and it’s been a long time, to do this now is like unbelievable for me. 

"I’ve always wanted to do this and I nearly did it in London in the Individual.

"I’ve had European medals and World medals but to win this and be lucky enough to get this horse here is pretty emotional for all concerned in my team.”

Skelton was appearing in his seventh Olympic Games, having made his debut at Seoul 1988.

He had initially retired 16 years ago after breaking his neck in two places, missing Sydney 2000, but later recovered and returned for Athens 2004. 

He claimed a first major championship title medal 42 years ago with team silver at the 1974 European Junior Championships.

Nick Skelton became the oldest gold medal winner of Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Nick Skelton became the oldest gold medal winner of Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

The Briton thus became the oldest champion of these Olympics, the oldest equestrian gold medal winner of all time and the oldest British champion since shooter Jerry Millner triumphed aged 61 at London 1908.

Oscar Swahn of Sweden is the oldest Olympic champion ever, having won the single shot running deer team event at Stockholm 1912 when aged 64.

Swahn's fellow Swede Peder Fredricson took the silver medal today with a jumpoff time of 43.35 as his horse All In managed to negate the entire competition without a single fence down.

Eric Lamaze of France, the final rider to compete, finished faster than Skelton on 42.09 over the seven jumps.

He, though, agonisingly for him caught the second fence in the double combination and had to settle for third after leading the rankings from the first qualifier.

London 2012 gold medallist Steve Guerdat of Switzerland had to settle for fourth place on Nino des Buissonnets after knocking the first fence down. 

He duly missed the chance to become the first rider in Olympic history to defend his title with the same horse.