So we’re on the verge of the games; it’s opening ceremony day and the sun is already warming the bones and putting a glow over sugarloaf.
As with most mornings here it’s an early start, 6.30 a.m. leave for the equestrian venue. We drive along Ipanema beach and the morning runners are out for a stretch, no Olympians looking at the various knee straps.
It’s jog day for the eventing horses (to be correct—horse inspection). I’ve been here for nearly a week now and it’s been a mix of emotions and I’ve been watching the city change in front of our eyes. As the opening ceremony gets closer the welcome has grown, the yellow shirts of the volunteers have rocketed in number and—like the Games Makers in London—their enthusiasm washes over you.
In a city that there is no denying has its problems, the acceptance amongst the locals has now become more palpable. Walking to the train last night, seeing young people line the streets outside the equestrian center to cheer on the torch, suddenly made it all very real again as the Olympic spirit starts to seep into your pores.
OK, enough sentimentality, you all want to know about the equestrian sport!
So I’ve walked the cross-country twice now and it’s a big test but it’s an Olympics. Pierre Michelet, as always, has been clever and the devil is in the detail, little touches that mean a line just becomes a little tighter or an angle more acute.
Now the COTH reporters will all tell you what the course is like and no doubt give all the background, so what can I add?
Well, did you know that we rehearse the cross-country day, using quads instead of horses. It gives us a chance to test all the systems, for TV cameras to plot the course and where the riders will go and that we run through through various scenarios to test all our services.
Even we commentators get a chance to practice as the quad riders “ride” the course. It might be a mistake though to let me make up the names of horses and riders who are our test riders—suffice to say “Bruce Springsteen riding Born in the USA” were the first to go clear cross-country at this year’s Rio Games. Though he was a little over the time!
So far this week I’ve been in workshops with fellow Olympic commentators and received advice from some of the finest voices in world sport—the American commentator who will be at the basketball has a voice that rivals James Earl Jones: amazing!
I’m surrounded by so many friends though from both the announcers booth to the TV studios that it’s an amazing coming together, not just of rider talent but also of broadcast talent, all in one place; for very simply the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
Let the Games begin!!
Steven Wilde got his start in commentating in 2001 and has gone on to announce and commentate at some of the world’s biggest venues, in all the Olympic disciplines. His voice has been heard at Hickstead, Blenheim and Barbury Horse Trials, and the 2012 London Olympic Games. He grew up in the sport of show jumping, as his mother was an international rider, and he’s been successful at at organizing shows as well.