Tales from Rio: ‘We walk to McDonalds for date night in the Athletes’ Village’

  • Dressage rider Lyndal Oatley and her husband, Patrik Kittel, have dates in McDonalds. Yes, really. Ok, perhaps not on when they are at home in Germany, but with rooms at opposite ends of the Athletes’ Village at the Rio Olympics, it’s the hot spot this week.

    Lyndal rides on the Australian team here with Sandro Boy 9 and Patrik represents Sweden on Deja.

    “I’m married to my trainer, so we’ll be debriefing for weeks,” says Lyndal. “I’m very driven, I want to do my best for me, my horse and the Australian team.”

    Lyndal is joined on the Aussie team by her cousin, Kristy Oatley, who partners Du Soleil.

    “Kristy and I are sharing a room, so it’s like when we were kids back in the Hunter Valley and had sleepovers — she’d braid my hair and pull half of it out,” smiles Lyndal, who is the fastest talker in dressage — my pen was flying to keep up.

    “I’m lucky to have family and friends around me. The mixed zone was the most multi-cultural group when I was riding. That’s what I love about this sport, that it brings people together.”

    Lyndal has been based in Germany for nine and a half years and goes home to Australia four times a year.

    “I have 11 old horses at home, including a 33-year-old New Forest, which my Mum gets to look after,” she says.

    She rode at Aachen as her last show before Rio and made it through to the freestyle, something she believes only one other Australian has achieved.

    “It was a bit close to being here, but my parents were there and that meant a lot to me,” she says. “I want to make my family happy as they are along for the ride, so when they are in Europe, I show.”

    ‘All I could hear was inappropriate sounds’

    The 15-year-old Sandro Boy 9, by Sandro Hit, was gelded after the London Olympics.

    “He was going well there, but he was always predominantly large in that department and as I was going round the arena all I could hear was the most inappropriate sound from sweat,” says Lyndal.

    “He was always a bit uncomfortable and it was important to make him comfortable. He bounced back quickly and his temperament is the same. Now he gets to go out eight hours a day in a long grass paddock next to the mares, so that’s a lovely thing.

    “He is also a windsucker and I didn’t want him to have any additional risks.”

    Continued below…

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    The pair scored 70.186% in the grand prix this morning.

    “I was happy with him — he was concentrating on me,” says Lyndal. “It was my fault we had a mistake in the one tempis.”

    Full 20-page report on the dressage from Rio in H&H next week, out Thursday 18 August, including full analysis of how the medals were won and comment from Richard Davison and Peter Storr.

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