After Germany’s Michael Jung won the second of his two consecutive Individual Olympic Equestrian Eventing titles at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games he was asked what he had next in his sights. “Tokyo 2020 of course, and the Europeans and maybe the world title along the way!”, he replied.
By Louise Parkes / FEI
He wasn’t joking of course, because the 38-year-old who made Eventing history by becoming the first to hold the European, Olympic, and World Championship titles at the same time is one of the most formidable athletes in all of equestrian sport.
He didn’t make it to the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2018 when his horse had an injury, but at the FEI European Championships the following year he took team gold and was just pipped at the post for the individual title by team-mate Ingrid Klimke.
This is a man who sets the bar really high for everyone else, and if he can do the individual hat-trick in Tokyo then he will set a new Olympic record. Charles Pahud de Mortanges from The Netherlands came out on top in Amsterdam in 1928 and again at the following Olympics in Los Angeles in 1932, and New Zealand’s Mark Todd won in Los Angeles in 1984 and again in Seoul in 1988. Both riders partnered the same horse on each occasion, the Dutchman riding Marcroix and the Kiwi riding the legendary Charisma.
Jung was also riding the same horse, the mighty Sam, when coming out on top at London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This time around he will partner his 2019 European Championship horse Chipmunk, and the world waits to see what more magic he can bring.
He’ll be joined on the German team by two of the three athletes who helped clinch team silver in Rio, Sandra Auffarth (Viamant du Matz) and Julia Krajewski (Armande de B’Neville). However it is the French who line out as defending team champions, with Thomas Carlile (Birmane), Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold HDC) and Christopher Six (Totem de Brecey) flying the flag for Les Bleus.
The British arrive as reigning world champions with the world number one, Oliver Townend (Ballaghmore Class), number five Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser) and number 22, Laura Collet (London 52) in their side, backed up last-minute replacement reserve Ros Canter with Allstar B, the horse she rode to individual gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018. . There’s great strength in depth in this selection, while the Irish world silver medallists, and the Kiwi side that includes husband-and-wife Tim and Jonelle Price, also look highly competitive.
But there are further Olympic records hanging in the balance. Australia’s Andrew Hoy, Shane Rose and Stuart Tinney have 166 years of life-experience and eight Olympic medals between them. And 62-year-old Hoy could make Olympic history by becoming the first athlete to win gold medals an incredible 29 years apart. He won his first team gold in Barcelona in 1992 and if he could do it again he’d break the all-time record set by Hungarian fencer Aladár Gerevich, who triumphed in 1932 and 1960.
Hoy went on to win two more team golds, at Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000, and just by turning up in Tokyo he will set an Australian record with his eighth Olympic appearance since his debut in Los Angeles in 1984 at the age of 25.
The sport of Eventing has been subject to many changes down the years and at the Tokyo 2020 Games there will be a new and shorter Dressage test, which will take just under four minutes to complete. The Dressage and Jumping phases will be staged at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre in the city, while the Cross Country action will be held at Sea Forest Park in Tokyo Bay.
Following the Ready Steady Tokyo Equestrian Test event staged at Sea Forest in August 2019, during which an FEI official climate impact study and horse monitoring project took place, the Cross Country course was shortened to approximately eight minutes.
It’s all a long way from the first time Eventing was included in the Olympic programme back in 1912 in Stockholm when the competition began with Phase A, “an Endurance ride over 55km in four hours” and Phase B, “Cross-country over 5km in 15 minutes with 12 obstacles”.
After a rest day the all-military competitors then set out to tackle “Steeplechase over 3,500m in 5 minutes and 50 seconds with 10 obstacles”, while on day four there was “Jumping over 15 obstacles up to 1.30m high and 3.00m wide” before finally finishing up on day five with “Dressage”. From seven starting teams, four completed and Sweden took both Team and Individual gold.
Times have indeed moved on, but the partnership between horse and athlete remains at the heart of equestrian sport, and in Olympic Eventing that partnership is at its zenith.
What is Eventing?
Once known as “The Military” because it was a test for cavalrymen and their horses, Eventing is the most comprehensive test of horse and rider, combining the separate disciplines of Dressage, Cross Country and Jumping, with results from each phase totalled for a final score. It is the lowest score that wins, both for the team and individual medals.
It has been an Olympic sport since 1912.
How it will play out…..
The Team and Individual competitions will run concurrently on consecutive days as follows: Dressage test (over two days, 30/31 July), Cross Country test (1 August) and First Jumping Competition (2 August) to determine the Team classification.
The Individual Final Jumping test will take place after the Team Jumping Final on the same day (2 August), with the top 25 battling it out for the medals.
Eventing Dressage and Jumping will both be staged at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre, with horses travelling to Sea Forest Park for Cross Country day.
To enable a finish by just after 11.00, the start time on Cross Country day will be 07.45 JST.
Horses can be substituted for the team competition, and a horse/athlete combination may be substituted by a reserve combination for medical/veterinarian reasons in any of the three tests after the start of the competition.
The top-25 horse/athlete combinations go through to the Individual Final.
The athlete rides the same horse throughout for the Individual classification.
There will be two horse inspections – on 29 July, the day before the Dressage phase begins, and on 2 August before the final Jumping phase takes place.
A drawn starting order will be used for the Dressage and Cross-Country tests but in the final Jumping test horse/athlete combinations will go in reverse order of merit.
Facts and Figures:
65 horse/athlete combinations
14 countries represented by individuals
Australia, Germany and USA share the biggest number of team victories in Olympic Eventing history with four each.
Australia, victors in Rome in 1960, has the unique record of winning three team titles in a row – at Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and on home ground in Sydney in 2000.
Team France are the defending Olympic champions.
The French have twice claimed the team title – in Athens in 2004 and at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Germany’s Michael Jung is the defending double-champion having won the Individual title at London 2012 and again at the Rio 2016 Games.
Germany has won the Olympic Eventing Individual title on three occasions but Sweden holds the record for most wins with a total of four, the last recorded on home soil in Stockholm in 1956 by Petrus Kastenman riding Illuster.
When the Olympic Games were last staged in Tokyo in 1964, the Eventing it was held in Karuizawa, 150km north-west of Tokyo.
History was made when a woman competed in an Olympic three-day event for the very first time that year. The USA’s Lana du Pont, who 27 years later as Mrs Wright won team gold at the World Driving Championships in Paris (FRA), finished 33rd of the 34 horse-and-rider combinations that completed. A total of 48 riders from 12 nations participated, and 14 were eliminated in the Cross Country phase.
At Tokyo in 1964, Italy claimed Team gold and the Individual title went to team member Mauro Checcoli riding Surbean.
Australia: Andrew Hoy (Vasilly de Lassos), Shane Rose (Virgil), Stuart Tinney (Leporis). Alternate: Kevin McNab (Don Quidam).
Brazil: Carlos Parro (Goliath), Marcelo Tosi (Glenfly), Rafael Mamprin Losano (Fuiloda G). Alternate: Marcio Appel Cheuiche (Iberon Jemen).
China: Alex Hua Tian (Don Geniro), Huadong Sun (Lady Chin V’T Moerven Z), Yingfeng Bao (Flandia 2). Alternate: Ruiji Liang (Agora de Bordenave).
France: Thomas Carlile (Birmane), Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold), Christopher Six (Totem de Brecey). Alternate: Karim Laghouag (Triton Fontaine).
Germany: Sandra Auffarth (Viamant du Matz), Michael Jung (Chipmunk FRH), Julia Krajewski (Amande de B’Neville). Alternate: Andreas Dibowski (FRH Corrida).
Great Britain: Laura Collett (London 52), Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser), Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class). Alternate:Ros Canter (Allstar B).
Ireland: Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua), Sarah Ennis (Woodcourt Garrison), Sam Watson (Flamenco). Alternate: Austin O’Connor (Colorado Blue).
Italy: Susanna Bordone (Imperial van de Holtakkers), Victoria Panizzon (Super Cillious), Arianna Schivo (Quefire de l’Ormeau). Alternate: Stefano Brecciaroli (Bolivar Gio Granno).
Japan: Yoshiaki Oiwa (Tullyoran Cruise), Toshiyuki Tanaka (Taima d’Allou), Kazuma Tooto (Vinci de la Vigne).
New Zealand: Tim Price (Vitali), Jonelle Price (Grovine de Reve), Jesse Campbell (Diachello). Alternate: Bundy Philpott (Tresca).
Poland: Pawel Spisak (Banderas), Malgorzata Cybulska (Chenaro 2), Joanna Pawlak (Fantastic Frieda). Alternate: Mateusz Kiempa (Libertina).
Sweden: Ludwig Svennerstal (Balham Mist), Theese Viklund (Viscera), Louise Romeike (Cato S). Alternate: Sara Algotsson Ostholt (Chicuelo).
Switzerland: Robin Godel (Jet Set), Melody Johner (Toubleu dd Rueire), Felix Vogg (Cartania). Alternate: Eveline Bodenmuller (Bioline de la Brasserie).
Thailand: Arinadtha Chavatanont (Boleybawn Prince), Weerapat Pitakanonda (Carnival March), Korntawat Samran (Bonero K).
USA: Philip Dutton (Z), Boyd Martin (Tsetserleg TSF), Doug Payne (Vandiver). Alternate: Tamra Smith (Mai Baum).
Austria: Lea Siegl (DSP Fighting Line), Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati (DSP Comsa).
Belgium: Lara De Liederke-Meier (Alpaga d’Arville).
Belarus: Alexandre Zeleno (Carolo Grande JR), Aliaksandr Faminou (Martinie).
Canada: Colleen Loach (Qorry Blue d’Argouges), Jessica Phoenix (Pavarotti).
Czech Republic: Miloslav Prihoda Jr (Ferreolus Lat), Miroslav Trunda (Shutterflyke).
Denmark: Peter Flarup (Fascination).
Ecuador: Nicolas Wettstein (Altier d’Aurois).
Hong Kong: Thomas Heffernan Ho (Tayberry).
India: Fouaad Mirza (Seigneur).
Netherlands: Merel Bloom (The Quizmaster), Janneke Boonzaaijer (Champ de Tailleur).
Puerto Rico: Lauren Billys (Castle Larchfield Purdy).
ROC: Andrey Mitin (Gurza), Mikhail Natstenko (MP Imaging If).
Republic of South Africa: Victoria Scott-Legendre (Valtho Des Peupliers).
Spain: Francisco Gavino Bonzalez (Source de la Faye).
Ground Jury President: Nick Burton GBR
Ground Jury Members: Christina Klingspor SWE and Jane Hamlin USA.
Technical Delegate: Philip Surl (GBR)
Course Designer: Derek Di Grazia USA
Chief Steward: Helen Christie NZL
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico, Republic of South Africa, ROC, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, USA.