Sophie Wells, a fellow reining fan as I mentioned yesterday, was down at the indoor arena at sparrow’s fart this morning to watch paradressage teammate Jo Pitt in the grade II individual test. Incidentally, where were all the other British supporters? There was a distinct lack of British Dressage/British Equestrian Federation presence, yet I know there’s a fair few of them here… If you want to share in the medal glory, share in the early mornings I say.
Anyway, Sophie’s got the cowboy boots now, and was wearing them fetchingly over her cow pyjamas, completing the look with her Stetson. She wasn’t keen for me to take her photo for this blog in said outfit, mind…
She is, however, someone who understands the importance of the media and publicity. Winnie Murphy, press officer for all the British riders, was of course watching Jo’s test. She has worked harder through longer hours than anyone I’ve seen here in any capacity. She then drove Sophie, still wearing the pyjama ensemble, up to the press office for an impromptu radio interview. Of course Sophie was sleepy, she was busy winning individual grade IV gold yesterday, and rightly celebrating into the small hours. She wasn’t expecting an interview request, either – but she happily got on with it. Star.
Less can be said for others in the sport. An interview might be the last thing an athlete feels like doing, particularly after a bad ride, match, whatever. But they are sportsmen, they’re in a competition.
Competition doesn’t mean having lots of money to spend getting yourself and your smart horse to a fabulous facility like Kentucky Horse Park to ride with the best in the world just so that you can tell your friends about it. Competition doesn’t exist without an audience beyond your personal fan club. And an audience beyond those sitting in the stands, too.
Sure, I’m a writer, I would say that, but it astounds me when riders refuse to talk to the press. The people who spend their hard earned cash coming to watch these events are the ones who create sponsors without whom there would be no event, let alone any prize money. They deserve to hear from their heroes. Likewise, the publications that provide them with a shop-window to create clients and gain personal sponsors deserve more than the reaction you’d expect from a spoilt toddler who just lost the egg and spoon race. Man up people and have something to say, ultimately it’s for your own benefit as well as the sports’.
Thank goodness for the managers who insist on this kind of professionalism, and for the riders smart enough to ignore the managers who don’t. Kudos to them – we certainly appreciate it, and your fans do, too.