Here we are at Tokyo Olympics 2020 (1), the first female athlete to win Olympic gold in individual eventing. Women have only been allowed to take part in eventing since the Tokyo Olympics in 1964! Even more significance!
So many amazing stories come out of Olympic Games. Where do you start!!?
I think the Julia Krajewski story might be the right place to start!
We can go way back to 2017 when Julia, although maintaining her innocence, accepted an administrated sanction, a positive drug test, which at the 2017 FEI European Championships at Strzegom, lost the silver medal for the German team. Back into the saddle partnering “Chipmunk” posted some amazing dressage scores in the lead up to Tryon WEG in 2018. Unfortunately, WEG, for Julia and Chipmunk didn’t quite go to plan and not long after Tryon, Chipmunk had a new jockey, Michael Jung.
The mare that Julia partnered to win Gold in Tokyo, Armande DeB’Neville has been in Julia’s stable since 2016. Rio Olympics 2016, Julia rode Samouri Du Thot they were members of the silver medal winning German team. Probably not the most memorable experience for “Sam” and Julia, they had a fall cross country and were the discard score.
Julia has competed extensively throughout Europe and Great Britain, taking part in the ERM series with both Sam and Mandy as Amande De B’Neville is known in the stables. Recently Julia was dealt a huge blow, Sam lost his eye and was retired from competition and even more recently her father passed away. This was devastating for Julia as her dad was an enormous support throughout her riding career. She is quoted as saying “I knew that everything would fall into place if I just kept kicking”.
I reckon every eventer worth their salt knows the feeling of putting one foot in front of the other and Julia’s preparation for Tokyo that sentiment rings true and of course Julia gave all the accolades to her amazing mare Mandy, Amande De B’Neville. Congratulations to the first lady of eventing!
Another amazing woman of eventing is Laura Collett, riding for Team GB and bringing home a gold medal. Eight years ago, Laura was lucky to survive a terrible cross country fall which left her in a coma for two weeks sustaining many injuries and as a result is permanently blind in one eye. That’s what I call a remarkable comeback!
Now to a truly Australian legend, Andrew Hoy!
He set sail overseas with Davey in 1982 representing Australia at Luhmühlen World Championships, when Lucinda Green won with Regal Realm. From there his Olympic journey started, riding Davey at Los Angeles in 1984 his teammates were Mervyn Bennett, Wayne “Patch” and Vicki Roycroft, yes folks in eventing! Looking down the list of riders Andrew and Vicki are the only two from all the athletes still competing at an international level.
Andrew, a three-time Olympic gold medallist is the 13th athlete in Olympic history to make eight Games, joining only nine eight-time Olympians and three athletes who have competed at more. The 62-year-old will also surpass rider Bill Roycroft, who was aged 61 in 1976, to become the oldest Australian male competitor at an Olympics.
1984 Los Angeles Olympics Davey.
1992 Barcelona Olympics Kiwi.
1996 Atlanta Olympics Darien Powers and Gershwin, Team Gold with Wendy Schaeffer, Gill Rolton and Phillip Dutton.
2000 Sydney Olympics Darien Powers and Swizzle In, Team Gold with Matt Ryan, Stuart Tinney and Phillip Dutton, Silver Individual with Swizzle In.
2004 Athens Olympics with Mr Pracatan. Where Rebel Morrow riding Oaklea Groover was the highest placed Aussie.
2012 London Olympics with Rutherglen.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Vassily de Lassos, Team Silver with Shane Rose, and Kevin McNab. And Individual Bronze.
Now to our mate “Ringa”, Shane Rose has also endured plenty of adversity and is a terrific ambassador for the equestrian world, he’s a proud dad a great mate and a bloody amazing cross-country rider!
The Australian eventing team is a force to be reckoned with there’s no doubt! Even from Tokyo preparation three or four weeks before Tokyo. On both sides of the world the Aussie eventers went into training camps and Pre-Event Quarantine, PEQ. Shout out to all those combinations that were included PEQ, Sonja Johnson, Hazel Shannon, Sammi Birch, Kevin McNab and Christopher Burton with their horses, we salute you!
It was at this stage Stuart Tinney’s hope for a medal, Celebration, was announced to not be ready for Tokyo. The whole of Australia felt heartbroken for Stuart and Karen but with Leporis as a back up it seemed that Team Tinney would join the boys on the podium. The night before the first dressage session the announcement came that Stuart and Leo weren’t to take part in the Olympics, devasted! But to say Stuart wasn’t a big part of the team result would be extremely remiss of me!! Stuart is an amazing competitor and very strong steering force for eventing in Australia. Especially for his bestie Ringa!
Now to talk about Resilience! Kevin McNab has set his sights on representing Australia many years ago, leaving his successful business here in Oz was a huge call. I reckon gaining the ride on his wife’s lovely horse Fernhill Tabasco, “Toby” after Tryon WEG made the vision a little more real!
Being named travelling reserve is a tough gig, well according to a certain show jumper! But Kevvy was a team player! The rest is history, well done Kevvy your name is now cemented into history as part of a super outcome for Australia in times of a world crisis, truly inspiring.
All in all, how proud ever Aussie is, even if they’ve never patted a horse. Tokyo Olympics is not over yet but what a high for our sport, the first woman to win individual gold, Andrew, Shane, Kevvy and the team of super stars of the support crew that it takes to drive the Olympic team bus, three cheers!
Even 7plus!!! Such a terrific coverage.
Phew, now back to reality and enjoy the rest of the Games!