Saturday kicks off eventing, the first of three equestrian competitions. Eventing is the ultimate test for a horse and rider combining the disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and jumping. The competition is commonly referred to as “three day eventing,” but actually occurs over a span of four days. The dressage portion of the competition will take place Saturday and Sunday. Although the discipline occurs over the course of two days, each athlete will only compete once.
Horses and riders will move to the Rio cross country course on Monday, a 5 km circuit created by France’s Pierre Michelet. Medals will be awarded on Tuesday, Aug 9. after the final jumping phase.
Germany is seeking to defend their 2012 title as team eventing gold medalists. With reigning individual champion Michael Jung returning, joined by 2012 teammates Ingird Klimke and Sandra Auffarath , Germany shows promise in their quest for gold. Jung encountered an all too familiar situation a week before animals were due in Rio. His intended horse, Takinou picked up an infection, forcing Jung to resort to his backup horse, Sam, a 16-year-old London veteran . The duo won both individual and team Evening in London.
Team Australia shocked all with a historic victory in Germany a few weeks ago, taking home gold in the Aachen CICO3. Christopher Burton, Sam Griffiths, Shane Rose, and Stuart Tinney are looking to keep up the pace and take home an Olympic gold.
New Zealand, claiming bronze in London shouldn’t be underestimated in Rio either as three of the four London Olympians are returning. The elite Mark Todd will be one of New Zealand’s returning riders. Todd, who took back-to-back individual gold at the Los Angeles and Seoul Games is the only rider in Olympic history besides Charles Pahud de Mortanges to hold that accomplishment. However, if defending champion Michael Jung wins individual this year, he will join the elite.
London’s silver medalists, Great Britain, will have a strong team yet again with returning riders William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell who took individual bronze during the Athens Games in 2004.
Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and USA will all be fighting for a team title as well. Russia is the only team competing with just three riders. All other teams have a roster of four.
Individually, Michael Jung is the man to beat. Four years ago he arrived in London holding the European and World championship titles. On his 30th birthday he made eventing history as the first rider ever to hold the Olympic, World, and European titles at the same time. Since London, Jung has only progressed. If by some chance a female is able to end Jung’s run, she will become the first female in Olympic history to take home the individual eventing gold.