Pressure, ups and downs as well as the Olympic format – these were all subjects for discussion at today’s press conference following the team final in Rio where France won gold, USA silver and Germany bronze.
Kevin Staut about the bad luck France has seen during the Olympic week: “For sure we had really bad luck in the beginning of the week, but maybe it helped us to fight more and more. It was a tough week and it was hard to imagine taking a medal and especially the gold, but we had great riders, great horses and we are really proud of this medal.”
Roger Yves Bost joked about the pressure as third to go as he knew he could secure the medal: “It was no pressure because I did not know the scores,” Bosty said with a laugh.
The French team praised their Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat as well as their fantastic horse owners that have kept all this top horses for them to continue riding instead of selling them: “This is what has brought us here today. The horse owners are like our family.”
About the pressure of competing in the final without their fourth rider Beezie Madden, USA’s McLain Ward was quite clear: “You don’t really have an option! Beezie has been our anchor for the better part of a decade, her and I have gone to many championships together. We felt we had a strong team, strong horses, we felt the course was brilliant today – real Olympic caliber. Both of my team mates did a brilliant job. All three horses performed as good as they could. We have a great team behind us. That’s the key. When you see the week France had, to pull off what they did and then the situation we had this morning, that is what being a team is about so I am very proud of everyone involved.”
USA’s Kent Farrington about his first Olympic experience: “I’m thrilled to be here. Just to be on this team. In my first Olympics to win a medal is a fantastic feeling. I think there is no greater honor than to represent your country here and to walk away with a silver medal is a great finish for me.“
Lucy Davis on being in Rio: “I think it is something really special to be on a team with these three. Even though it’s Kent’s first Olympics, I have very little pressure having him go first and then these two after me. This Olympic experience went as good as it could for me and my horse.”
The President of the Ground Jury Stephan Ellenbruch, was asked about the four disqualifications under the blood rule: “We see that a lot of riders are under very much pressure here. Maybe they are overusing their spurs a little bit. We had no case where someone did this with the intention of hurting the horse. Sometimes it just happens. We see a certain tendency that there are clipped horses with short fur and sharp spurs. This combination is dangerous, simple as that.”
“We had to disqualify two riders on both the first days. The good news is that today a lot of riders had changed their spurs. More and more riders are protecting the horses using spur belts and things like that. The huge majority of the riders do everything to protect their horses. And then there are sometimes cases were it happens and we have to take action.”
Course designer, Guilherme Jorge, about the clear rounds over today’s course: "Over the first two days we had more clears than expected, but this shows the high level of horse and rider combinations here. Today for the team final the idea was to step it up a bit and to play a little with the time allowed. I think today we had a good result with the number of clears. The riders had to take their strategy and decide if they had to go for a clear round within the time or if they could allow themselves a time fault.”
Stephan Ellenbruch is also a part of the FEI Jumping Committee and was asked about the debate regarding the Olympic format where they consider the idea to only have three team members for the Olympic team competition: “I cannot comment as there are several proposals on how to change the rules, but the experience during the Olympics will probably affect the process and the outcome of it.”
Ludger Beerbaum on the pressure as the last rider to go: “When you go in the ring you don’t have all these thoughts. There was no tactic really because I could not have a time fault and I should not have one down. If you start thinking about everything you mess everything up. Don’t think. Try and stay focused and do your job. I did not think of anything, just trying to do my job. I am very pleased that it worked out and I am really thankful to everyone who gave me all the trust to be a part of the team. It was a great team.“
Ludger also mentioned the debate regarding the Olympic format: “The Olympics in Rio have proved that the format of having four per team could not be better. For the drama and excitement of the sport we want this roller coaster up and down, and not that everything is decided after one round. Leave it open until the end. On top of that we have the welfare issue. We have lost a few horses over the last days all this speaks completely for four riders. I speak from the bottom of my heart; it is absolutely wrong to change it to three.”
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum; “That last fence down today was a huge disappointment, I did not expect it. Perhaps I was a bit confident. To then go in for a jump-off and fight for a bronze medal – this has really been a roller coaster.”
Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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