Truly did not ask that to be argumentative, though I think the travel/distance are issues for almost any rider, unless they are so fortunate as to be born and raised either in the US's Area II or III. It's relocate or spend your life traveling.
Visas are a big stumbling block to that travel, certainly, and I read something else recently (sorry if this is going a bit far afield) that got my wondering about all the Canadians living and riding in the U.S.:
In the aftermath of Canadian freeskier Sarah Burke's death, I read something about how, because she was Canadian, none of her medical bills in the US were covered, leaving the family god knows how deep in debt. The article said Canada covers its athletes during team competitions but not during training in between, which is where her accident happened. Of course this made me think of all the riders competing here. Are they training and riding under this same risk of not having insurance in case of injury, or is that a case-by-case thing? The article made it sound as if any Canadian would be in the same situation as Burke, were they to be injured here.
Canadians must spend at least 6 months of the year in Canada in order to keep their Health Canada benefits. This is a problem for HP athletes who train in the US or overseas.
Sarah Burke, IIRC, was training for a contest sponsored by one of her sponsors, so did not fall under the Health Canada provisions.
Canadians also cannot work in the US without visas. There are various ways this can be done but it's far more difficult now than it used to be.
In Canada, there are a few sports that receive generous funding via Sport Canada and the COC. Those few 'targeted' sports are either Canadian-popular -- hockey, curling, sprint canoe/kayak -- or the sport has somehow put an athlete on the Olympic podium, as happened with triathlon. Recently, I was told that a top-six finish at the Olympics will get a huge increase in funding for a sport. But the fact is that many sports get no funding at all or just minimal travel expenses for international competitions. 'Minimal' often means shared rooms in youth hostels and microwaved meals. One of my friends slept in a hallway at the Pan Ams because they couldn't fit all of their beds and gear into their rooms.
All HP athletes are not 'carded' -- meaning they don't get any assistance. If you do get assistance, it may be through your province, and you may have to stay in your province to train. Right now, my friend's SO has to train in Ontario for London in order to maintain his carded status. That sounds fine until you consider that he's also in grad school in BC.
There is no eventing at all in some areas of Canada. Even here in BC, there's nothing above Prelim, and sometimes not even that. It's interesting to note that the Canadian team eventers tend to be young and the showjumpers skew old. I suspect it has something to do with the ability to make a living in the discipline.
Crusader was David's Pony Club horse - he bought him with a Kruger Rand he purchased from his coyote trapping exploits - and Crusader was originally destined for a bucking string out of Kelowna B.C....and he was mostly Quarterhorse. It is a while back and that is as I remember being told. To think, that back in the day, it was the normal way to get to the Olympics - travelling the Continent with beater trucks, binder twin and duct tape so to speak. Camping in the rain, sticking it out because they had that certain crazyness to do it regardless of the difficulties and shortage of money. The big name coaching was not available to all.
I must add, that our eventing Olympians in BC have been outstanding in their pay-back to the up and coming kids with similar dreams to thiers. Most came through Pony Club.
Crusader was an appendix QH, sired by the TB stallion Haydn*, who was a son of Tudor Minstrel. He was not a very popular race siring stallion, not a lot of foals. Haydn* was claimed out of a race somewhere in the USA, a cheap race, because of his pedigree, and brought to BC to stand at stud. He was stood at stud by Mickey MacDonald. I had one of his foals too, a full TB, as a showjumper, he was a good one. These were the only two of Haydn's foals ever tried in sport, both international caliber athletes. 100 % international level sport production rate. Both were chestnut, with white blazes and socks, reminiscent of Hyperion.
So - JP as the OP of this thread -- I'd say the dream is still alive. It is incredibly
tough to make it in any sport, but there are enough examples here to stop the flame being extinguished entirely.
There is something about these athletes who put their lives on hold, work incredibly hard for the big goal, and then possibly miss out on selection by a squeak, or political move. The four years later, they are still there, trying just as hard....the combination of courage, determination, work ethic, support and talent.
While some may be cynical of the Oympics, I must say I am excited and looking forward to them.
For the athletes, the dream is still alive, despite the corporate grabs. They still want to be the best they can, and subscribe to the creed.