British eventing’s newly crowned Olympic gold and silver medallist Tom McEwen says he “absolutely loved the downtime” that riders had during the Tokyo Games. With Olympic Covid restrictions in force, many of the usual activities that athletes might get up to during the Games, such as sightseeing or even watching other sports, were off limits in Japan.
The British event riders stayed in a hotel in Yokohama, about half an hour’s drive from the Equestrian Park.
“Obviously everyone’s slightly different, but I didn’t have much of an issue filling the downtime, said Tom in an interview on episode 63 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, currently supported by Petplan Equine.
“I could sleep very well and I definitely caught up on a bit of sleep. I watched a lot of films, did a lot of work on planning where the rest of the horses were going to begin with and then I did a lot of exercise – gym, stretching.
“Equestrians are quite good at waking up early in the morning, having a cup of tea or coffee, getting straight on the horse and cracking on and then at the end of the day, we just go to sit on the sofa and stretching isn’t our top priority.
“I was very productive really and I absolutely loved the downtime. Everyone else is slightly different, but I was rather enjoying it.”
Tom also talked about what Olympic Covid restrictions meant in terms of mingling with other riders in the team.
He explained: “Basically the first 48 hours we were completely separate – there’s obviously many tests to get on the plane to begin with and, as probably people have read, there were a few athletes who sadly failed their last 72-hour one, which did stop you from going at all. Then there were spit tests every day.
“So the first 48 hours, we ate in our rooms and we weren’t allowed near the dressage guys to begin with and vice versa when the showjumpers came out. We were actually in a sort of a holding hotel, I think, for GB athletes, so all the floors below us were full of different athletes doing all different disciplines that had just flown in and came in for their 48 hours before going off to either their own hotels or the Athletes’ Village.
“All food was delivered to the room, most of the time was spent in the room. There was a little area upstairs where we had the odd team meeting and towards the end of our time, when we had definitely formed our own bubble, we could wheel our food up there and eat up there. But most of it was done by yourself.
“Obviously Covid played a huge part of these games. They [the organisers and Team GB] did the most amazing job with it, I must say. But obviously, after putting so much effort in, we all did our part to make sure that we weren’t going to fall at a final hurdle.”
Finally, Tom revealed that all three members of the British Tokyo Olympic eventing team have been asked to appear on the iconic quiz programme A Question of Sport.
“If it was more of a picture thing, I’d do very well, but I’m just not brilliant with names and holding them in my brain, although I do follow every sport going,” said Tom.
Find out about the moment Tom realised he was on television rather than in a radio interview and learn more about his Olympic partner Toledo De Kerser on episode 63 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, currently supported by Petplan Equine.
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