Tales from Tokyo: ‘I tried banking – but dressage is the greatest joy of my life’

  • Korean Olympic dressage rider Dong Seon Kim started at his second Olympic Games today – but a year ago, he had given up dressage to work in banking.

    “I worked in private equity in Korea for a while, but it wasn’t my thing,” said the 32-year-old rider, who retired from the sport after the Florida spring season in 2020.

    But a few months later, he was back.

    “Dressage is the biggest joy in my life, so I will continue again. I tried other things and it wasn’t as interesting for me – I didn’t like it. I had to go back to riding and now I think I’ll be riding forever.

    “I’m based in Korea with three or four horses in my stable, but hopefully I want to do the next Olympics, so I’ll be back in Florida and also Europe to compete more.”

    Dong Seon Kim admitted he was disappointed with his test today with the 14-year-old Belstaff, a Brentano son who was on the Danish team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games with Betina Jæger. He joined Dong Seon at the start of 2020 and was competed by his trainer Germany’s Hubertus Schmidt while Dong Seon had his break from the sport.

    “There were too many mistakes so I was not as happy as normally, but it is what it is. I couldn’t ride well enough, so it’s mostly my fault. I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t quick enough to react to the feeling he was giving me.”

    Of his experience of this unusual Olympics, Dong Seon commented: “I’ve been to Tokyo many times and it’s unfortunate everything is shut down and there’s no spectators. They built this great venue so well, it’s a shame to see nobody watching us.”

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