Laura Tomlinson: ‘Logistics are threatening our dreams’ *H&H Plus*


  • Laura Tomlinson discusses a timely call-up, and being inspired by family

    I thought that I would be talking about having had a frustrating end to my short-lived 2021 campaign.

    My top horse, DSP Rose Of Bavaria (Betty), was late to get out competing after a six-month gap, then I went to Compiègne and had two cautious and fairly average rides. There, I was still feeling the fact that we had not been in the ring for so long, and I was taking a moment to trust that all was well with her after she hadn’t been right.

    I was ready for my second show before Olympic team selection in Le Mans last week, and excited to show that Betty and I are back to last year’s consistent form.

    But then the Delta variant hit hard, and both France and Germany shut their borders to UK travellers, initially without elite athlete exemptions.

    I felt deflated but decided that it was out of my hands and I would focus on competing at Vale View Premier League as a good practice run. I just hoped I could get out again internationally in time for European Championships selection.

    Then I got the last-minute call that Germany had made exemptions for elite athletes. We had to get our travel paperwork sorted, entries in through the FEI system and PCR tests done in time, but it meant I have been able to ride at another CDI, in Herzlake, before the selectors choose the Olympic team from their longlist.

    My head was spinning all day as we prepared, and I geared up for a very different type of competition.

    I can safely say that trying to prepare for or plan anything in elite sport at the moment is challenging. There must be many athletes from different sports who have had their dreams snatched away this year, purely due to logistics.

    However, I remind myself that these are first world problems. At these times, I am so grateful for my family and the invaluable perspective that they help provide.

    Wife, mother and athlete

    HAVING read Pammy Hutton’s recent column, I was left questioning myself and comparing the competitor I am now with the one I was pre-children in 2012. My relationship is with the same person, but we now have three children, and without a doubt it has made “coming back” tricky. However, I am no less competitive or ambitious.

    I spend my life juggling, which means my ability to delegate and to allow others to help has grown.

    That the double Olympic champion rower Helen Glover has made it back on the
    British Olympic team this year after having three children is beyond inspiring. She is doing it for mums all over, and for her children. I know how she feels.

    As a parent, you’re not only doing it for yourself, but also to make all those tough times worth it, and to show your daughters that, as women, it is possible to have it all.

    I don’t know yet if I am too late to get on a championship team this year, but I am excited about the horses I have.

    Let’s not forget there are the World Championships next year, and the Paris Olympics in just three years. My gosh, I will be doing just as Pammy says: working my behind off to get there without losing who I am as a wife or a mother, but instead allowing those sides of me to bring inspiration, grit, support and a whole lot of love to my armoury.

    This exclusive column can also be read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale date 24 June 2021

    You may also be interested in…