Thursday, 16 August 2012
A glorious end to a glorious Games.... Memories
I had a dream and the dream has evolved in to reality; another chapter to go but what was a dream, only to be talked about in hushed tones, has projected itself on to the Field of Play in Greenwich. Through the magical abilities of our top riders, supported by generous owners, nannied by dedicated grooms and assisted by talented Team Staff those magnificent equines have danced their way in to the history books. What has driven many of us for 7 years, frustrated us, worried us and at times felt well beyond touching distance has mostly been delivered. Could the reality of the dream have been better; of course. Were there opportunities missed; perhaps. In terms of the % rate of medal opportunities V medals won, equestrian would be well above the accepted average. 4th = in the GBR medal table for the Olympics – I’ll take that.
But I still have a dream.
I have a dream that as one sport we can rise up and embrace that emotion that has touched so many, whether it be the written media, TV, radio or the wee lad in the stadium who shouted: “We love those dancing horses” . That mantra can embrace all, whether it be dressage, jumping, cross country, vaulting etc etc. The beauty of the horse and its ability to perform amazing skills....
I have a dream that we can further educate all age groups as to the therapeutic value of horses for those with disabilities or special needs.
I have a dream that we can take elite equine sport once more in to the centre of our Capital City and other great Cities around the country. Imagine dressage and jumping on The Mall...regardless of discipline it still celebrates the horse....VIP hospitality one side..inner city children the other side of the arena...what a send off for the World Games in 2014 that would be.
I have a dream that all young people can enjoy that freedom and majesty of riding horses.
I have a dream that we can attract sponsorship to our top shows; that we can see great competition centres developing around the country. Centres where the facilities are elite both for spectators and for the athletes (2 legged and 4).
Perhaps I was tired but I admit I had a tear in my eye during the GBR Freestyle tests; some of the music invoked glorious memories of my time at the King’s Troop RHA. I understand that the Dutch may have felt that Parzival could have been ahead of Valegro but the reasons for Valegro winning Gold were well explained at the Press Conference; I have watched Valegro and Charlotte’s test back a few times and it was just stunning.....which about sums up the achievements of Charlotte, Carl and Valegro. The cream on the cherry on the icing on the cake was two individual medals; go go go Gloucestershire Girl Power.
We managed to control the media commitments post the Dressage fulfilling a myriad of interviews at Greenwich on the Thursday evening and then a trip to the Olympic Park (BBC) and Team GB House (non accredited media) on Friday morning. Within a few minutes of the riders being on the BBC “balcony” a large crowd had gathered. “Which sport are you” shouted a lady......"They’re the dancing horses silly” shouted back a kid who cannot have been more than 10.
I was saddened to learn that some people had criticised the coverage that the dressage team had after the Team competition compared to jumping....have they heard of Chris Hoy...have they heard of “still being in competition”. How anyone can criticise the amount of coverage all three disciplines had is beyond me. The equestrian media have been fantastically supportive throughout the Games and have given the riders the space they needed and reported accurately and fairly. A first...thank you the media...well, most of the media; to those that tried to create scandal out of nothing, I blow you a big raspberry.
Rewind to the Jumping Individual Final and there was a different mood post competition. Big Star was a star and deserved a medal....one rail down in 6 rounds must be close to a record. Tripple X and Sanctos both had rails but still jumped superbly..... Hey, they are the 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists....the last time that happened the Blogger of the day might have been using a Qwerty keyboard but electric typewriters would have been right “with it” and semaphore would have been the preferred method of communication with the Judges Box (hang on.....I seem to remember, in very recent times, the occasional Water jump Judge using this well tried and tested method of inter personal communication).
So competition done.
Friday morning was spent clearing up the stables....well to be truthful, I saw the dressage horses off and then disappeared to the Olympic Park with Laura and Charlotte to “do media work”. The stables that we will keep for the Paralympics have been mucked out and disinfected, the others emptied of bedding. Olympic branding removed...ready for the Paralympic branding. Everything cleaned and tidied up. On that note...another Gold medal needs to awarded; to the Vets: Shock, horror, surprise – they managed to contain themselves to their three trunks and not spread their kit around our store room; who said the Lottery funded CPD we have been doing has not paid benefits!
Our office in the hotel was closed and the House cleaned and tidied ready for handing back to the owners.
The end of a Games is always a bit of a tug on the heart strings but this time I had secured a couple of tickets to athletics and basketball and I had to stay for the Closing Ceremony. OMG OMG OMG the atmosphere in the Athletics Stadium was pure adrenalin...but I kept my cool and managed to call the GBR Mens 4 x 100m mistake as it happened. Watching a World Record being set was and will remain a treasured memory.
So to the Closing Ceremony: Preceded by a reception for all medallists and Team Leaders laid on by the BOA and attended by a range of celebs and politicians: The Prime Minster spoke extremely well and the news that Exchequer funding is secured through to the end of the Rio cycle was greeted by cheers....Lottery and Exchequer funding DOES make a difference.
The Closing Ceremony. Enough said; 2 ½ hours to get in to the Stadium, could not hear the music or see the performers in the Stadium. I, like many, left and watched the most poignant moments back at the hotel. The lowering of the Olympic flag and the extinguishing of the Flame. OK, I might not have smiled much during the Games but I sure as hell shed a tear as the Flame left the UK.
Although only ¾ of the way through the Mission it is job well done to LOCOG, the Volunteers, the Army and most of all, the Nation. So we return to the fray next week.....standby for the occasional Blog.