All Over Bar The Shouting as The Equestrians Return Home from Tokyo 2020
All over bar the shouting! As the riders and horses return to their respective countries with success, or not as the case may be. There is no doubt that following all the difficulties with the pandemic, that staging the Olympic Games at all was a spectacular achievement. We have to make an apology for always referring the Olympic Games as being in 2021 in our articles and not as officially known Olympics 2020! Great Britain took the most number of medals won over the two weeks.
In the Dressage, the team of Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Lottie Fry for Great Britain took the Bronze Team Medal behind Germany who took Gold and The United States taking Silver. Of course Charlotte Dujardin won the Bronze medal with Gio individually, such an inexperienced horse, and one who was not originally going to Tokyo at all. He made for a brilliant replacement horse for Charlotte. In the Horse Trial Eventing, the result was even more brilliant for Great Britain as they took the whole competition by the scruff of the neck right from the off and won Team Gold Medal.
A remarkable result for such a young team who had never before been to the Olympics. Oliver Townend, Tom McEwen and Laura Collettt all rode out of their pants to secure the Gold by such a huge margin. Perhaps, one of the stories of the whole Olympic Games was how Laura Collett came back from death, literally, in 2013 to be part of this team. After a hideous fall, she was in a coma for six days and broke her back. She even had to be resuscitated on several occasions in the ambulance on her way to hospital following the fall. Quite remarkable only a few years later, she is the proud holder of an Olympic Gold medal; and she remains blind in one eye following the accident. And the great news for Great Britain didn’t end there either as Tom McEwen secured an individual Silver Medal behind Germany’s Julia Krajewski.
In showjumping, Great Britain’s medal tally increased again with Ben Maher, who incidentally also broke his back in a fall only a year or two ago, took Individual Gold Medal in a pulsating final jump off with Explosion W. Another stupendous achievement for Great Britain, to retain the Golden Crown following Nick Skelton and Big Star taking the individual Gold in Rio five years ago.
One has to feel sorry for Peder Fredricson from Sweden however, as he won the Individual Silver here in Tokyo, exactly the same position he held in Rio, with the same horse, and again one behind a Brit, only this time, a different Brit!!The Showjumping team event was equally as exciting, particularly in the final jump off. Any one of several of the final ten teams to qualify could have won this. However, for Great Britain, after various changes to the team because of injury and such like, the wheels came off their wagon and they went home empty handed. In fact, after two horses has jumped, anchor man Ben Maher decided that to jump such a huge course set, would be a pointless exercise, so withdrew. Great Britain were eliminated. Unfortunately, they were joined by Mexico, Israel and Japan, all of whom were also eliminated.
Of the six left, two, the United States and Sweden were tied on 8 faults each, so they would jump again in a jump off in which all the team members had to go again. It was a blistering jump off with all six going clear, so we were down to the hundredth of seconds to decide the winners. Sweden won just – and a very well deserved win, so Peder Fredricson on All In did get his long awaited Gold medal. The other two team Gold medals winners for Sweden were Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Henrik Von Eckermann. In Bronze medal was Belgium on 12 faults and the Netherlands finished just outside the medal positions with 17 faults. It was yet another pulsating competition with twists and turns all over the place, but we think the best team actually won on the end. The United States Silver medal team were Jessica Springstein, Laura Kraut and McLain Ward.
Other medal hopefuls
So what of the other equestrian medal hopefuls in Tokyo? Well Germany nearly had a clean dressage sweep in the dressage – not totally unexpected. They took the Team Gold and looked like they would also clean up in the individual competition as well – until Charlotte Dujardin came and rained on their parade! Horseview UK do offer our congratulations to the German dressage team as they came with hope and took pretty well everything. Isabel Werth, Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl and Dorothee Schneider are all fantastic riders in their own right as well as have some wonderful horses upon which to compete.
In the eventing, the Germans were also thought to have a strong team with Michael Jung, Julia Krajewski and Sandra Auffarth. Sadly for them in the team event, the wheels rather fell off their wagon and they were completely out of any medal contention. However, Julia Krajewski did manage to spare German blushes by winning the Individual Gold Medal, all was not lost. A mention must be made of Andrew Hoy from Australia riding Vassily de Lassos, the oldest Olympian still winning a Bronze Medal at the tender age of 62!
In the showjumping, again Germany were expected to do well, but again, the wheels rapidly came off when world number one Daniel Deusser failed to fire in the individual final. In the showjumping, both the Swedish and Japanese riders really shone. They were the only other two countries after Great Britain to get all their three riders qualified for the Individual medal finals. The French teams for dressage and showjumping flattered for a while and that’s where that ended, but their eventing team did bring home a bronze team medal.
The United States’ performance throughout all the disciplines was a bit like the ‘curate’s egg’. They were either very good and strong or surprisingly average. They were very disappointing in the eventing and the individual showjumping, none of their riders got into the finals and none featured in the eventing team or individual medals. However, they were awesome in the showjumping team competition when they collected Silver. They did come to the party in pure dressage and collected a Team Silver medal as well. Their dressage team of Steffen Peters, Adrienne Lyle and Sabine Schut-Kery were thought to be a strong team – and so they were. They were 400 points behind the German team, but Germany was completely unassailable, and the United States deserved their success.
The competition throughout the equestrian Olympics was exciting and unpredictable – as it should be for the spectator. There was a huge difference in pressure for every rider in all the team classes, as all their scores counted, so unlike other years, a bad round from a team member really did matter and was often the difference between a medal or not. In the most extraordinary of circumstances with the worldwide pandemic and the rest, it was remarkable we think, that Tokyo 2020 managed to stage the games at all, and we are glad they did, as without doubt, they provided all us equestrian enthusiasts with some excellent sport.
images courtesy Jon Stroud, Reuters