Charlotte Caslick was integral in securing a gold medal for Australia's women's rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics this week as part of a top Darling Downs performance.
Charlotte Caslick was integral in securing a gold medal for Australia's women's rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics this week as part of a top Darling Downs performance. Contributed

Burton and Caslick fly Southern Downs flag high

OLYMPICS: Former Warwick Horse Trials Club member Chris Burton has won bronze in his second Olympics to cap an outstanding first five days at the Olympics for athletes with a Southern Downs connection.

The Australian team finished with 175.3 points, six behind winners France. In the individual, Burton was fifth but would have won bronze if his horse Santano II had clipped one less rail in his final round.

On Tuesday morning, Charlotte Caslick was the standout as Australia won gold in sevens rugby. She scored three tries in one game and was named Player of the Tournament.

Her father Don was heavily involved in Stanthorpe sport for a number of years, and while her immediate family no longer live on the Granite Belt, there are many relatives in the Stanthorpe area.

Burton was a longtime member of the Warwick Horse Trials Club and a regular competitor at Morgan Park when he was working his way through eventing ranks. He is originally from the Jondaryan area west of Toowoomba.

He performed above expectations on a horse young by eventing standards. His horse is nine, and many in the sport claim horses peak between 12 and 16 years of age.

As well as Burton, the other members of the Australian medal-winning eventing team in Rio, Sam Griffiths, Stuart Tinney and Shane Rose, have regularly competed at Morgan Park.

The medal win is likely to give new momentum to a sport which had a golden era at the Olympics in the 1990s and at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

If the Darling Downs region was a country, it would be well up in the medal rankings above many of the world's biggest nations.

The women's rugby team also included Toowoomba pair Gemma Etheridge and Emilee Cherry.

Past Scots PGC student Demi Hayes has already played for the Australian Pearls in part of her team's Rugby Women's World Series triumph this year and must be a strong chance for Tokyo in 2020. Fellow past student Emily Bass has also played in international rugby carnivals.