I am going to try to write something daily, but I may be writing something longer and less frequently, because it’s a matter of technical opportunity. When you cover the Olympics, as equestrian writer Nancy Jaffer says, it’s usually a choice between eating and sleeping. I haven’t gotten enough of either the last couple days. Also, it’s a technical issue, because I only have the capability to log in at the equestrian venue itself or the Main Press Center, and that’s after the work I do for the Associated Press is finished. If I could write during the 2 to 3 hours a day I spend on a media bus, my life would go more smoothly right now.
As you may have seen from the media feeds online and on TV, the equestrian events are being held right in the heart of London, in Greenwich Park, which is an amazing accomplishment. From my media tribune site (100 steps up in the stands, and yes I counted –good aerobic workout, but I’m glad there are handholds, and I wasn’t the only one using them, or supplemental oxygen) I could see the skyline of London, cathedrals, factories, and even jumps from the cross country course. My favourite is shaped like a crescent moon, giving real meaning to the phrase: “He could jump the moon.” It’s in honor of the Greenwich Observatory nearby.
(And, I just realized, I spelled “favourite” with a “u,” after just three days here.)
Karen O’Connor said today that she originally thought Greenwich Park would be too restrictive, but she said it doesn’t feel that way. The stables are great, under trees with lots of grass where the horses can graze.. They designed the cross-country course to twist and turn so it can be situated in limited space, but there are also lots of hills. It will be very difficult for the riders to make the time without penalties. An unfortunate side issue is that admission for cross country Monday will be limited to 50,000. They could have sold three or four times that number.
Karen said she was walking the cross country course yesterday and was standing in the middle of the water jump when she ran into Frank Ostholt of Germany, who competed her horse Mr. Medicott on the German team that won gold in China four years ago. She has been riding the horse for 8 months and they had a long (damp) discussion. She had a good dressage test today, but the horse broke twice on the centreline. He must be eager! She said she replaced his usual snaffle with a double this morning so that she could “keep pushing.” It’s a thought I wish more people understood about the double, who often just think it increases braking power. It actually allows a good rider to use lighter, more-effective leg aids.