Athens highs and lows

  • Making history
    The Australian eventing team arrived in Athens yesterday, one of the last teams to settle into their Olympic accommodation. They will be hoping to repeat history and break the Olympic record to win a fourth consecutive eventing gold medal.

    The German dressage team, who have won team gold at every Olympics since 1976, (in 1980, they took team gold at the alternative Olympics, boycotting Moscow), will be vying to continue their unbeaten spell.

    Last minute withdrawals
    Dutch hopes for dressage gold have suffered a crushing blow with the news that injury to Edward Gal’s ride, Lingh, as the 11-year-old stallion was stepping out of a lorry following a training session, has forced the combination to withdraw from the competition. The pair finished 2nd at this year’s World Cup finals, and won the Dutch National Championships.

    They will be replaced by Olympic newcomers, 27-year-old Imke Schellekens – Bartens with Lancet. Holland have pursued Germany in all three of the last Olympic games, but have yet to realise the dream of knocking the Deutsch dressage divas out of the gold medal spot.

    Canadian eventer Stuart Black has suffered disappointment just days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. A flare-up of the rider’s Crohn’s disease has left a vacancy in the Canadian team which will be taken up by Garry Roque, with Waikura. Garry used to represent Bermuda, but took out Canadian citizenship in 1997.

    Meanwhile, Sam McIntosh, who gave up her New Zealand status in order to represent Bulgaria in Athens will be joining Marcus Ehning on the show jumping sidelines, as Allure has been deemed not fit to compete due to an injury.

    Britain settling in well
    With the exception of Sarah Cutteridge’s huge disappointment, the British equestrian team are settling in well to their headquarters, with full praise for the facilities. The only adjustment which had to be made was to extend William Fox-Pitt’s bed – with a foot stool – to accommodate his longer-than-average frame.

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