Sweden continued their dominance in the Olympic showjumping at the Tokyo Games, and looked almost in a league of their own during Friday’s Olympic team showjumping qualifier as the only nation to produce three clear rounds.
Santiago Varela’s track for Friday’s competition required bold riding and, with the new format meaning that there was no drop score for the teams of three, a total of three countries failed to complete, including a shock exit for one of the favourites, Ireland.
Sweden’s three-man team of Malin Baryard-Johnsson (Indiana), Peder Fredricson (All In) and Henrik von Eckermann (King Edward) had all made it through to the jump-off to decide the Olympic showjumping individual medals on Wednesday (4 August) with Peder and All In claiming the silver medal behind Great Britain’s gold medal-winning Ben Maher.
Then, under the lights on Friday in Tokyo, the trio once again remained faultless all evening, putting them top of the leaderboard after a gruelling team competition in the Olympic showjumping team qualifier, from which the top 10 teams qualify for Saturday’s medal-decider.
“Our horses have been unbelievable,” said Malin. “I think we all have the same feeling that so far it’s felt quite easy in every round in there, even though we’ve had to try hard of course, but they’re jumping so well – all of them, in every round.
“But you know, there are many horses jumping well tonight and we start from scratch tomorrow so anything can happen.”
Peder Fredricson’s outstanding equine partner All In and Henrik von Eckermann’s King Edward are both barefoot and All In, who also helped his rider win the individual silver behind Nick Skelton and Big Star at the Rio Olympics in 2016, retains his enviable record of never having knocked down a pole during two Olympic Games.
Peder said: “All In jumped great again today. Malin and Henrik are fantastic riders and we had three really good horses, but we also had, I think, a fantastic team around us – our chef d’equipe is fabulous, our fourth rider Rolf-Goran Bengtsson is amazing and he is a true part of the team, he’s really making us stronger, which is a very, very important part. It’s easy to think that the fourth riders are not too important, but in a situation like this is, it is very very important. And we have a good physio, a good vet, and all the people around us. I think is very professional, and I think that makes a big difference.”
Rolf, Peder and Malin were part of the silver medal-winning Swedish Olympic showjumping team in Athens in 2004.
“We’ve done so many championships together and we know each other so well so we’re a super tight team – especially now with these rules that none of us have any family here or friends,” he explained. “We are really tight in this group. And then of course it’s very important that you get along well and you know each other and you give each other space, but it still works out really good. We have a great time.
“But at this level you have to be 100% all the time, you can‘t get away with not being good.”
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