Mary King’s Olympic Games diary: show jumping day

  • After the cross-country we were encouraged to have a quiet start on Tuesday morning because the final vets’ inspection wasn’t due to take place until 4pm that afternoon.

    I spent Monday night out with family and friends celebrating our cross-country success, which was followed by a lie-in on Tuesday morning in order to be fresh for the late night show jumping phase.

    I got to the stables at 9am. Cavvy was quiet, but happy in himself as well as relaxed. His legs also looked amazing, which was in no small part due to the great ground conditions at Beas River.

    I returned to the Olympic village and relaxed by the pool for a couple of hours before returning to the stables at around mid-day to get ready for the vets’ inspection. Cavvy provided me with no concerns and trotted up beautifully.

    The day turned out to be hot. From the relatively coolness of cross-country day, the sun was now beaming down on Sha Tin and so I was keen not to overdo Cavvy’s preparation.

    Firstly I warmed him up in the air conditioned indoor school, and then took him outside when there were about four horses still to jump before me.

    He started off quiet, but then got his spring back and I went into the arena pretty confident of a clear round. Imagine my disappointment then when Cavvy had two rails down.

    He was jumping beautifully until the final line away from the collecting ring. He seemed to go a bit quiet and I don’t know if I hadn’t picked up the canter enough, but he didn’t get high enough over the last line of fences, which were the smallest on the course. He hit the first fence behind and then, to my horror, also had the final fence, an oxer over a water tray, down.

    From not collecting any show jumping penalties since 2005 to having two down at such an important competition was massively disappointing for me. My initial concern was that I had let the team down, but my eight faults wouldn’t have changed the squad’s standings at all and even with a clear round from me we would still have ended up with the bronze.

    I may have spoilt any chance of my own individual success, but I still went through to the final show jumping round over a shortened but slightly bigger course. In this round Cavvy had the second jump down, but from there on he jumped perfectly.

    Had we secured a double clear I would have won individual bronze, but clearly I didn’t deserve it!

    Getting on the podium to receive the team bronze medal was a very emotional moment. I felt very proud, but at the same time pretty disappointed that I wasn’t collecting an individual accolade too.

    We’d had a variety of things go wrong for us as a team, including a change to the original line up of horses due to injury, so I think basically we’d done pretty well to come home with the bronze medal.

    My whole experience of Hong Kong has been fantastic. Bar the Hong Kong Jockey Club, this is an unhorsey nation, but the people have gone out of their way to learn about the sport and enjoy it.

    The facilities have been superb and the organisation fantastic and the whole competition has fired me to work towards London 2012, maybe with my younger horse, Imperial Cavalier.

    I still haven’t won that gold medal, but who knows what will happen in four years time.

    Signing off for now, Mary King

    PS: Thank you all for your lovely messages. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to them all individually.

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