There cannot be an single athlete at the Tokyo Olympics whose preparations have not been interrupted by Covid-19, but Mexican rider Martha Fernanda del Valle Quirarte has perhaps been one of the hardest hit – she ended up moving countries as a result of the pandemic.
Raised in her native Mexico, Martha moved to the US equestrian paradise of Wellington, Florida, in 2019. A year later, she relocated to Germany, thinking it would be possible for her Portuguese coach Miguel Ralão Duarte to travel there to train her.
But the travel restrictions necessitated by coronavirus put paid to that – so four months ago, Martha moved to Portugal to be nearer Miguel.
“It’s been a really long journey, but to come to the Olympics has been a really special dream for many years,” she said after her Tokyo Olympic dressage grand prix test yesterday.
It’s even more special for the 32-year-old to make her Olympic debut with a home-bred horse, the powerful 15-year-old Lusitano stallion Beduino Lam.
“He’s my first grand prix horse so it’s been a lot of learning together and we’ve gone through a lot,” said Martha. “He sometimes appears a little bit grumpy, but he’s actually really cute. He has a strong character. He likes to give his opinion, but then he’s always willing to work with me.”
Martha Fernanda del Valle Quirarte said some tension in the arena caused expensive mistakes in their test. The pair scored 64.876%.
The rider has another grand prix horse, the Dutch warmblood Dynamic RS, and also a three-year-old Lusitano, “a project for starting”.
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