The newly crowned Olympic showjumping team silver medallist Laura Kraut describes that epic jump-off between USA and Sweden at the Tokyo Games as “more stressful than exciting!” Here’s her run down on the Tokyo Olympics jump off for team medals…
Reliving the medal decider and the rest of her Olympic experience as part of Team USA on episode 64 of The Podcast, currently supported by Petplan Equine, Laura credits their chef d’equipe for his foresight and meticulous planning.
Laura says: “Robert Ridland is so smart and he spent the past five years thinking about this new format. He basically had us programmed that Saturday [team final day] was the only day we had to be perfect. We were really geared towards that team competition.
“He had also said all along that there was definitely going to be a jump-off – ‘And we’re going to be in that jump-off, so you need to be prepared to have this many rounds in your horse’. It’s amazing really, hindsight being what it is.
“But towards the end there, we were thinking that we were going to get the bronze medal and to be perfectly honest we were very happy about that. But then when Penelope [Leprevost] had that misfortune, all of a sudden it all turned around.”
But with only 15 minutes to prepare for the jump-off to decide the gold and silver medals, it was suddenly all systems go for the challenge ahead.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of regrouping. We’d walked the jump-off course, we knew exactly what we wanted to do,” she says.
But, as pathfinder, Laura set off against the clock with her great partner Baloutinue with just a slight doubt about whether one particular inside turn was possible.
“I thought: ‘It’s the Olympics, I’m going to have to give this a go!’” she says.
“But I was so, so happy with the way Baloutinue jumped – he’s such an incredible horse. He rose to the occasion right when we needed him to and for the jump-off he was right on it. He can turn, he gallops, he’s quick. Robert said ‘Just go in there and put pressure on them [Sweden].
“When I came round the water [towards the final fence] I was galloping and I saw far away the stride that I wanted I just thought ‘Oh my God, Oh my God, I’ve got it, I’ve got it’ and when he landed I thought ‘This is incredible!’
My team-mates were awesome as well, but Sweden were just not going to be beaten, they deserved the win.”
Find out more about Laura’s Olympic experience, her Olympic partner Baloutinue and take a trip down memory lane to her gold medal-winning performance with the great Cedric on episode 64 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, currently supported by Petplan Equine.
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