Australia has enjoyed a golden history in eventing at the Olympics and the team selected today for the 2012 Games will look to continue this tradition in London.
A big contributor to the nation’s medal haul is Andrew Hoy, and his inclusion in the team marks an historic moment in Australia’s Olympic history as he becomes the first athlete to compete at seven Olympic Games.
With three Olympic gold and one silver medal to his name, Hoy is no stranger to the Olympic podium and together with his horse Rutherglen will be looking for individual and team glory in Greenwich Park this July.
“The feeling changes from each Olympics because as you get older you value things more – you value the results, you value the opportunities and you value life more,” the 53-year-old said, from his current home in the UK.
“When I made my sixth Olympics I thought there might be a possibility of getting the record. But when it comes to representing your country, that’s not the record you’re aiming for, it’s just a nice little extra. The goal is to be successful and produce a world class performance.”
Recent performances at major international competitions showed selectors that Hoy and Rutherglen have what it takes to mix it with the best on the world stage and worthy of nomination to Australia’s Olympic eventing team. His nine-year-old gelding measured up against some of the more seasoned horses on the eventing circuit, and combined with the experienced rider in Hoy, the duo are a formidable combination.
“I’ve been working hard towards London but I thought my chances for a long time were limited, only in that my horse is a young horse. He is a very talented horse though and I chose a program that I thought gave me the best chance of being selected and stuck to that,” Hoy said.
Joining Hoy is 2008 silver medallist Shane Rose and for him, the chance to compete at another Olympics also represents an opportunity for redemption.
“The silver medal was amazing,” Rose said of his success in Beijing. “Personally though, I only finished 14th and I was hoping to be in the top few.”
Four years on and Rose is certain that he and his horse Taurus are a combination capable of a medal.
“I’m really confident that this horse is in good shape to be competitive individually,” the 39-year-old said.
“With the experience I had the last time, hopefully I can make things right this time.”
Like Hoy’s mount, Rose’s horse Taurus is a nine-year-old gelding which is relatively young with most horses at the Olympics being around 12 or 13 years old.
“He’s a super horse I’ve got,” Rose said. “He’s really starting to grow up. He’s only 9 which is very young for this level of competition but he’s quite mature as a horse.”
His maturity showed when the pair won the Sydney International 3 Star Event earlier this year which clinched his spot on the London team.
Rose’s Beijing teammates – husband and wife duo Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks – will line up for their second Olympic Games.
It is rare for husband and wife to share the podium together at and Olympic Games and Lucinda admitted a second Games will be all the more special.
“It's amazing to have a second chance to go to the Olympics with Clayton and we hope to go one better and bring the gold home,” she said.
Lucinda riding Flying Finish has also had an impressive preparation ahead of London, finishing second at the 4 star event in Luhmuhlen, Germany.
For Clayton he is one of the few equestrian riders in the world who has experienced first-hand the Greenwich course after competing in the test event last year with the horse he was selected on, Bendigo.
“Having already ridden I’m focused on keeping good control of my horse and ensuring he can turn and manoeuvre quickly and that he has good fitness as there are some big hills to get up on this course,” he said.
Debutant Chris Burton will round out the team with the former Queenslander now based in the UK. He impressed selectors with a second place finish at the 3 star event in Saumur, France riding Holstein Park Leilani as well as finishing second overall in the 2011 Eventing World Cup.
Eventing will take place at Greenwich Park from Day 1 to Day 4, July 28 – July 31.