Tales from Tokyo: meet the showjumper who is also an oil trader – ‘I love my job and my sport’

  • José María Larocca Jr is not only a four-time Olympian, adding riding at the Tokyo Games this week to appearances at the previous three Olympics, he is also one of the world’s leading oil traders.

    José María, a member of the Argentinian showjumping team, is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and is an executive director and co-head of oil trading for commodity trading and logistics company Trafigura.

    “It’s very exciting. I’m very lucky to have this job that I enjoy very much,” he said. “It is a very professional environment, very competitive maybe, but I love my job because of the people I work with.”

    Asked how he combines showjumping with his work, the 52-year-old – who was a late starter to the sport in his mid-30s – says it has evolved over time.

    “At the beginning, it was more difficult. Now I’ve managed to find the right balance. I ride a bit during the week, I try to compete every other weekend and I focus more on championships than other shows,” he said.

    “We have what we call the Olympic tour – the World Equestrian Games, followed by Pan Am games, followed by the Olympic Games, so three championships every four years. I try to be present in all of these championships. I really enjoy the sport, it is a beautiful sport.”

    José María Larocca Jr – who is also a dedicated runner in his lunch break – has two horses to ride at the moment, but says ideally he’d have three or four. He also enjoys breeding horses and is the owner or co-owner of two other horses in the Argentinian squad here in Tokyo, his job allowing him to do this financially.

    “I’m trying to support the Argentinian sport and develop it,” he said. “I could not do it without my work and yes, my work means I can’t be fully dedicated to showjumping, but it’s not what I want to do. I’m very happy with my work-life balance. I would not want to change that.”

    The rider’s two sons, aged 22 and 23, both ride and are with him in Tokyo, while his 13-year-old daughter enjoyed her first jump on the same day as her father started his competition in Japan.

    José María was an individual silver medallist at the last Pan Am Games in 2019 on his ride here in Tokyo, Finn Lente, an 11-year-old gelding by Gaillard De La Pomme. The pair did not make it through to last night’s individual final, but will compete again on Friday as members of Argentina’s team.

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