To jump six Olympic showjumping rounds and not have a single fence down is an incredible feat. Only one combination at the Tokyo Games achieved it – Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and the 11-year-old chestnut gelding King Edward.
The pair produced a super performance in the individual competition, finishing fourth just outside the medals. In the team final, they sealed their fifth clear round to send Sweden into a jump-off for gold with the USA. For the sixth time, Henrik and Kind Edward left the Tokyo stadium with all the fences still standing, and being rewarded with the team gold.
Until today’s team final, all three Swedish riders had maintained a clean sheet, but with Malin Baryard-Johnsson (Indiana) and Peder Fredricson (All In) each tipping a rail in the first round, only Henrik and the sprightly gelding, who jumps barefoot, has remained faultless from start to finish.
“To go all clear rounds here is very rare and unbelievable. Although not for the ones who have been following him, or know his record,” said Henrik, who has jumped clear in 20 of the 34 international classes he has contested with King Edward prior to the Olympics. “Even if everything is feeling perfect, still to do it– it’s almost impossible to go all these rounds clear. It’s amazing.”
“He’s a very fresh horse and I knew when I came here that this heat will make him better as it would make him a little calmer. So for me that was an advantage.”
This pair have only been competing together since last summer, with Henrik having taken over the ride from his fiancée, Janika Sprunger, and they have gelled remarkably fast.
Henrik admits that it was tough to finish so close to an individual medal earlier in the week, and that he had to work to make sure it didn’t affect his mindset coming into the team competition.
“To be honest it put me down a bit – I will always remember that as the day I lost the medal, but I also didn’t want to think about what I could not change,” he said. “It was what happened and I would be even more angry if I let that somehow affect my judgement in the coming days, so I pulled myself together and I’m happy I did. I managed to keep my focus. I think we deserved to have a good result today.”
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