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Former H&H deputy news editor

Amazing TV coverage promised for equestrian Olympic events

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Greenwich Park will cause some problems for camera crews, but will also offer unique opportunities, says Chris Lewis, the man in charge of equestrian broadcasting from the 2012 Olympic Games.

Chris, who after 30-odd years with BBC Sport now produces the TV coverage from Hickstead and Badminton, is the Olympic Broadcast Service’s (OBS) equestrian events producer for London.

“The Greenwich Park cross-country course will provide some exceptional views,” he told H&H. “I don’t want to give too much away, but viewers will be amazed by some of the camera set-ups.

“We will have super high-speed super slow-mo cameras covering those positions and we have an aerial camera that will go from the Observatory across the Thames.

It’s very exciting.”

Rather than different countries’ TV networks all filming the action, the OBS, working for the International Olympic Committee, creates its own unbiased footage from every Olympic event, which is streamed around the world.

Former showjumper Stephen Hadley will commentate on all three disciplines for the OBS, with help from GBR dressage team rider Richard Davison’s son Thomas on dressage days.

Some countries will use the OBS commentary but others, including the BBC, will have their own commentators.

But filming the action live from a relatively small and hilly venue, like Greenwich Park, brings its own problems.

“At Badminton and Hickstead, we are creating a highlights package and can tailor the coverage towards the best riders, but at the Olympics it will all be live, ” said Chris.

There will be cameras trained on each of the 29 cross-country jumps.

“There is a heavy climb to the finish, so some of the less experienced riders may have very tired horses,” said Chris.

“If one rider is doing a fantastic time we will have to keep up with them and that may be at the cost of someone who is struggling, but we have to be unbiased and show enough from every country’s riders to keep everyone happy.”

Because of the size of the arena at Greenwich – smaller than either Hickstead or Badminton – the number of cameras in the arena will be kept to a minimum.

“Only two of the 15 cameras will be in the arena, the others will shoot from the sides,” said Chris.

“But I believe Greenwich will provide the images from London that people will remember in 20 years’ time, in the same way that the high board diving with the city in the background is the image everyone remembers from Barcelona in 1992.”

View Olympic equestrian TV listings

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (19 July 2012)

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk