Isn’t it British to be talking about the weather in Rio? But while any Olympian is focused on rivals and tactics, there’s a glut of other factors — weather included — that are far less peripheral than one may imagine.
Past Olympics abound with tales of flooded courses, volcanic terrain and horses dying in transit. Stifling temperatures in Barcelona 1992 provoked a four-year study into the effects of heat and humidity — leaving a lasting legacy in how we cool horses today — while in Mexico City 1968 riders collapsed due to the high altitude only a week before the event.
So what can our riders expect in Rio next month?
What is the flight time? 12 hours
What is the time difference? Four hours behind the UK
What is the temperature in August? Average 22°C, max 26°C (London 19°C, max 23°C)
What is the humidity in August? 75% (London 65%)
How far away is the rider accommodation from the equestrian site? 40 minutes
Where are the stabling facilities? On-site
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is not envisaging challenging conditions in Rio.
“Acclimatisation will be relatively quick given that the Olympics and Paralympics are taking place during Brazil’s winter,” says the BEF’s Pippa Wade.
“The climate at its hottest is like a hot summer day in England, and can be much cooler.”
The British horses are set to travel at least five or six days before the trot-up.
“The flight time and time difference are not thought to be of much concern for the horses,” Pippa adds.
“In general they deal with these incredibly well, and after a day or two of rest will be ready to begin their final preparation for the Games.”
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The stabling, training areas, vet clinic and grooms’ accommodation are on-site, which is important to preserve biosecurity measures and safeguard the horses’ health.
However, the British riders will be based in the Olympic village, 40 minutes away, and will use the official Olympic transport.