Oliver Townend and Laura Collett react to Olympic selection: ‘It’s surreal, an unbelievable feeling’

  • What does it feel like to be selected for the Olympics? After the British Olympic eventing team for the Tokyo Games was announced yesterday, we caught up with two of the riders, Oliver Townend and Laura Collett, to find out how they are feeling…

    British Olympic eventers’ react: Laura Collett

    Laura will make her Olympic debut on Karen Bartlett, Keith Scott’s and her own London 52 (“Dan”).

    British Olympic eventers react: Laura Collett

    Laura Collett in her new Team GB kit for Tokyo. Credit: BEF / Jon Stroud Media

    She told H&H: “It’s a bit crazy, it’s probably not really sunk in yet. When it was made official yesterday, it was a bit of a surreal reality that it was actually happening. It’s just an unbelievable feeling after years and years of working towards something and thinking you’ll never achieve it.

    “To be selected in a year like this, with the combinations Team GB has, makes it extra special.

    “The horses go into quarantine at the British Showjumping centre near Lutterworth a week on Saturday. Up until then, it’s a case of trying to keep me and Dan in one piece, trying not to change anything and just getting everything sorted. It’s all becoming reality quite quickly.”

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    British Olympic eventers’ react: Oliver Townend

    British Olympic eventers react: Oliver Townend

    Oliver Townend after kitting out for the Tokyo Olympics. Credit: BEF / Jon Stroud Media

    Oliver will contest his first Olympics riding Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan’s Ballaghmor Class (“Thomas”).

    “I am absolutely delighted to have been selected,” he said. “To represent Great Britain at the Olympics is something I’ve been dreaming about for a very long time and it’s such an honour.

    “It will be very different from what I can imagine other Olympics have been, but we are a very strong team and I’m in great company with Laura, Tom [McEwen] and Piggy [March] as travelling reserve so we will go there with big ambitions and try to make everyone at home proud.

    “Ballaghmor Class is just such an incredible horse and has been so consistent. He really is a horse of a lifetime and the opportunity to compete at my first Olympics with him is hard not to get emotional about.

    “I’m very grateful to his owners Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan, who have been supporting us for a long time, as well as the many others that have been part of the journey – grooms, physios, doctors, dentists, farriers, vets, sponsors, owners, family and friends. The list is very long and although they won’t be able to be with us physically in Tokyo, they are still a major part of this success that I will be always grateful for.”

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