Tokyo Olympic showjumping course designer Santiago Valera’s individual final track proved a real championship question. Only six riders from the 30-strong start list finished the first round on a zero score to jump off for the individual medals at the Games.
Riders reflect on individual Olympic showjumping final first round course
“We have a very difficult course here,” said world number one Daniel Deusser, who collected eight faults in the first round aboard Killer Queen.
“The course designer really asked whatever he could ask here – three combinations, water jump, new planks, new walls. Spooky fences, funny fences – whatever he was able to ask. Everything is very, very big, and the time is short.”
Ireland’s Bertram Allan added the course was “bigger and harder” than Tuesday’s individual qualifier.
“There’s only 30 starters today, so it’s a lot smaller field, albeit a better field. But it is the Olympic final. There’s 14 fences and three combinations,” said Bertram, who rolled two poles with Pacino Amiro for eight faults in the first round.
“Maybe yesterday he had to mind some of the weaker nations, to let everybody have a chance. Whereas today, he is not minding anybody. He’s given it everything and I think he’s got a pretty right in fairness.”
Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, who went on to finish fourth with King Edward, described parts of the course as a “little bit of a mind game”.
“It starts nicely,” he said. “[Then] the triple combination is of course difficult. It’s a very tall vertical in the middle, you have to be very quiet, but still get out of the combination. So it’s a little bit of a mind game.
“I think more that you stay quiet and the seven strides before that you don’t go too early or too slow in the end, that’s a bit the tricky one.”
Egypt’s Nayel Nassar, who ended the first round with 13 faults aboard Igor Van De Wittemoere, added that it is “bigger for sure”.
“It’s bigger, it’s more technical and you have a lot more related distances,” he said, adding it is “definitely a big step up” from Tuesday’s qualifying round.
“Pretty much the whole course is related [distances] aside from a couple of rollbacks in the long run for the water.
“The time allowed is shorter, so it makes you have to hustle a little bit, take some risks in some places. I didn’t make the time allowed, but you know there’s enough questions today.”
Britain’s Harry Charles, who decided to retire from the competition late on course, added: “The fences are absolutely massive and there’s absolutely no room for error. So, it’s tough. I can’t believe how many clears there are to be honest.”
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