Tim Stockdale’s Olympic diary: the final installment

  • I’ve come to the end of my Olympic adventure — travelled about 8,000 miles, jumped 5 rounds and am on my way home with nothing but memories.

    I knew the courses for the individual final would go one of two ways — they’d either start big and get smaller or vice versa. It turned out to be the latter.

    When I walked the course I thought it was a tough track but that it looked good for Ruby (Corlato) and I. She felt tremendous and was obviously delighted to go clear. Everything in the first round went exactly to plan so I couldn’t ask anymore than that. I had a bit of luck at the last fence (again!) but think I was just being a little bit cautious.

    All of a sudden, it then hit me — I was jumping the next round for a gold medal. It was my career dream and here I was living it. The course for the second round was completely different to the first — new questions and much bigger.

    Again, Ruby felt good outside and prepared exactly as I wanted and we entered the ring brimming with confidence — I could almost touch a medal. We started well but at fence three, a big double of parallels, Ruby just didn’t feel right. I gave her a big kick to make sure we made the distance but she was definitely unnerved.

    Next was a tall wall of 1.60m and we hit it a bit more forward than I’d have liked after the previous fence. She just punched out the top brick but it was so light I only knew we’d had it down because of the crowd’s reaction. On to the next, a 1.60m planks and again gave it the slightest of rubs but then we were on 8.

    On to the combination and she jumped high but not wide to have one part down — she almost felt a little confused. She rallied for me and we jumped the bogey related distance of a triple bar to a tricky single plank well but at the last, she again seemed to lose her scope, jumping the big parallel like a vertical and we were never going to make the back bar.

    There it was, 4 fences on the floor; I can’t recall her ever having a round with 16 penalties. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I’ve experienced such highs and lows over these past few weeks. To jump the clear of my life and follow it with a disaster of a round, when nothing particular went wrong, has mystified me. I still haven’t got to grips with it; I’m not certain I ever will. I couldn’t tell you what exactly went wrong but I do know that double of parallels was the undoing of us.

    I’ve enjoyed my Olympic experience but a lot has not gone to plan, as much as I wish I could say it has. We travelled here with high expectations of medals; high, but realistic. The team competition was taxing mentally and it was difficult to keep in a good frame of mind to produce the results needed to win a medal — BUT we were so close on paper.

    Moving on to the individual, the mindset changes and you can block out many of the distractions. I got to the point that jumping a clear would give me a medal — you create the idea of the medal round your neck and it’s there in your hand. But equally as quickly, it’s gone.

    I won’t blame the horse and I didn’t ride badly but there are numerous little things which niggled. Sixteen faults in one round are disastrous — I can’t paint it any brighter than that.

    Anyone who says the Olympics is like any other show is quite mad. I’ve had a tremendous experience and I’ve been proud to be a part of the team even though for me, it has been a rollercoaster ride.

    I don’t think I’ve had time to fully appreciate the whole experience but in time my disappointment will heal and hopefully my Olympic memories will only be happy ones.


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