Tales from Rio: ‘My last Olympics was 28 years ago — in a different discipline’

  • “It’s not that amazing a story, really.” says Australian showjumper Scott Keach, modestly. In fact it is an amazing story. And it includes a decade-long gap where he didn’t ride at all.

    Twenty-eight years ago, he contested his first Games. But not in showjumping. Back then, in Seoul, he rode on the eventing team that finish fifth on a horse called Trade Commissioner.

    He has set an Australian record for the longest gap between two Olympic appearances — across all sports.

    This time round, he’s riding an 11-year-old called Fedor (Kashmir Van Schuttershof x Orkaan).

    Scott admits he evented “some time ago”. His longevity is staggering.

    “I used to showjump as a young person before I evented, and it was always in the back of my mind,” he says. “I stopped eventing in the 90s, then I didn’t ride for nearly 10 years. Then I just started again.”

    What made him pick up the reins again? It’d take all day to tell the full story, he says, but the short version is this.

    “Someone convinced me to go to the States. I had an opportunity to get into the jumping and grabbed that opportunity,” he explains somewhat vaguely.

    “I was going to produce couple of horses to sell to put some money together and go back to uni and study chiropractic in the US. I just ran into a curve and ended up living in riding in the US.”

    So how is he finding his second Games, nearly three decades after the first?

    This time I knew what I was in for,” he grins. “I was a lot more able to focus and be cool about it.

    “I’m fairly happy with my riding and very happy with the horse,” he adds, after jumping for four faults in the first round in Rio, also known as the speed class. “I cut it a shade too much on a direct line. The horse read my body language and did what he was told to do — just a little bit too much.”

    Continued below…

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    Off the pitch, Scott is chuffed with his stay so far in the Athletes’ Village.

    “The Australian building has the swimming pool right outside our building in the village; we’re very lucky. I get to swim every day.

    “It’s beautiful weather, I’ve got a pool outside — this is a cool place to have a good time!”

    Full report from the Olympic showjumping in Rio in the issue of H&H published Thursday, 25 August, including full analysis of every round and expert comment from Geoff Billington and William Funnell.

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