A West Oxfordshire man has taken part in his first Olympics - at the age of 69.

Bill Allen has just returned from the games in China after officiating at the equestrian events, held in Hong Kong.

While the eyes of millions of TV viewers around the globe watched the riders, he was one of the men and women in the background making sure the competition went smoothly.

Mr Allen, of Lees Rest, in Charlbury, was starter and chief timekeeper for the cross-country round of the three-day event.

His wife Ann was also there as a steward, helping to ensure the horses were fit and healthy.

Mr Allen's participation in the 2008 Olympics started last year, when he was called in by the Chinese to share his equestrian expertise, going back over four decades.

"They had a trial games last year and, basically, we had to show the Chinese what to do. Equestrian sport is pretty unheard of in China," he said.

"They're so friendly, it's unbelievable, but they're just not used to holding events like this. Tell them what to do and they follow it to the letter.

"Not many British people went as officials, I was one of the very lucky ones."

Britain gained two bronze medals in the equestrian events, which were held in Hong Kong, because of the threat of horse flu in Beijing.

Mr Allen will receive a commemorative medal to mark his participation in the Games.