“You look tired,” said my boyfriend’s mother, greeting me with a kiss in the media centre at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this morning.
I feel tired, I have to say. Physically and mentally drained — the result of a full-on four days watching the eventing and staying up writing until gone 1am afterwards both the past two nights before an early start — and emotionally slightly blank.
I think I expended all my energy on willing those eventers on to their medals, and while normally I then see things through in the office putting the magazine pages to press, this time I’ve ceded control of that to the hard workers left at home (thanks everyone) and I’m still here at the event, which feels a bit odd.
I’ve been very proud to be British over the past week — first the dressage, then the eventing. And while silver in the dressage was top notch, that just wouldn’t have cut the mustard in the eventing. In Aachen four years ago, we were beaten into silver fair and square by a German team who were undoubtedly better on the day, with Zara Phillips’s individual gold bringing the real euphoria.
This time, we wanted the big prize, we wanted to get our hands on those four glittering team gold medals and we did it. In fact, I even got to literally put my hands on one when Tina Cook came to the media centre to sort out her column for next week’s H&H yesterday evening. Close up, a WEG gold medal is surprisingly large, they have the FEI logo on the front and are engraved with the event details on the back, if you wanted to know.
Working last night in that heady high that comes with writing when you are beyond exhaustion, I knew I was one of the lucky ones. It’s so much easier to report a fabulous triumph than to try to explain to those back home what went wrong. I pity the American journalists who had to file copy on why the home nation lost a medal in the showjumping, just as I pitied the riders themselves when they came to the mixed zone to speak to the press. Boyd Martin was particularly brave, putting a good spin on things by reminding us the team had gained their Olympic qualification, and thanking the supporters.
Anyway, in conclusion to the eventing, many congratulations go to the whole British squad — riders and back-up — and thank you, it was wonderful and I loved it.
Moving on, two good things have happened today. Firstly — and I know I’m getting a reputation for mostly blogging about what I eat, but it’s important to me — Rolex provided a lovely lunch for the accredited media today. Salmon, pasta and lettuce, topped off by a chocolate brownie. Brilliant.
Secondly, Robert Smith jumped a good clear in the speed competition to kick off Britain’s showjumping competition. We’ve got Scott Brash and Michael Whitaker to come this afternoon, so fingers crossed they can follow suit. It’s onwards and upwards at WEG — for riders and journalists alike.
Full report on the eventing from WEG in H&H out this Thursday, 7 October, full report on the showjumping at WEG in the issue out 14 October.