To say it’s been a roller coaster ride for the French show jumping team at the Olympic Games is something of an understatement.
Things started out rough when World No. 2 Simon Delestre withdrew Hermes Ryan from competition on Aug. 10 after a microfracture at the tip of his hock after he arrived in Rio de Janeiro.
Luckily the French had a strong reserve rider in two-time Olympian Philippe Rozier who stepped up to the plate with Rahotep de Toscane.
Then on Aug. 12, the night after the horse inspection, Pénélope Leprevost’s Flora de Mariposa displayed colic symptoms. Leprevost spent the night in the clinic with “Flora” who recovered well.
But on Aug. 14 in the first individual show jumping qualifier Leprevost took a tumble off her longtime partner when Flora stumbled on landing.
“She didn’t jump the warm-up yesterday, but she was feeling great yesterday and this morning,” Leprevost said after the round. “She felt great when we were warming up and at the beginning of the course. I don’t really know what happened; we were just really unlucky I think. I do get to jump again with the team. I’m OK.”
Leprevost, the anchor rider for the French team, rode today for the French team. Her clear round, coupled with a clear from Kevin Staut and Reveur de Hurtebise, a 1-fault trip from Roger Yves Bost and Sydney Une Prince, and a 4-fault go from Rozier and Rahotep de Toscane pushed them into fifth and on to tomorrow’s team final.
“I’m very happy for the clear round, but I rode very badly, so thank you, Flora!” said Leprevost after her clear today. “I was very unlucky two days ago, but my feeling was great.
“I could feel everyone in the stadium holding their breath today,” she continued.
The whole team could feel the pressure.
“It was very difficult since we arrived here in Rio,” said Staut. “We had the injury of Ryan. Simon is a good friend of mine, and when he had to leave here because he was so disappointed, it was bad news. But then we concentrated and focused on our job. Then five days ago during the night, Flora had a problem, then Penelope falling. Maybe it made us to fight more and to be really angry. We are fighting a lot. It doesn’t matter the result, we are content at the end that we are still here. We are four to compete and we are proud of it. We will do our best.”
Staut also noted that the French team was highly motivated after having placed 12th at the 2012 London Olympic Games. That London team was made up of Delestre, Leprevost, Staut and Olivier Guillon, all competing in their first Olympic Games. “In London we were children,” Staut said.
“We couldn’t imagine the atmosphere and how it’s different from the World Equestrian Games or from the European Championships. So, I think it was a bad experience then but a good one for Rio,” he continued. For the Rio Games, the French team made the choice to ship in early, for the Opening Ceremony. So they were in Rio for a full week before the competition started.
“It’s hard to stay a long time away from our stables but it was our choice to be really in the Olympic spirit. I think we are completely in, and we know we have to fight 10 times more than at a normal show. Each day is a new day. We have to have some clear rounds to qualify for the next day. So it’s hard, but we know how it is,” Staut said.
Mollie Bailey and Lindsay Berreth are on the ground in Rio de Janeiro for the Chronicle and will be reporting with all the news, fantastic photos and behind-the-scenes details, all posted on www.coth.com. Your go-to page for all things Olympic is http://www.chronofhorse.com/2016-Olympics.
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