Aussies hoping to jump into history books
Despite the fact that Australia has won 11 medals in Olympic equestrian, not one of these has been in jumping. With any luck, that is all about to change.
The Australian Olympic Team will head to London with the best-credentialed jumping team in Olympic history led by powerhouse Edwina Tops-Alexander, who earned early selection in May.
Joining her will be Beijing Olympian Matt Williams and debutants Julia Hargreaves and James Paterson-Robinson.
Hargreaves earned automatic nomination with Vedor as the top performing Australian combination after two nomination events.
Despite the fact the Hargreaves was born in Hong Kong, grew up in the USA and now lives in the Netherlands – making the Australian Olympic Team is the realisation of a lifelong dream.
“Ever since I was a kid I knew I was going to ride horses for the rest of my life. So I suppose the dream came very early!” the 26-year-old said.
In May of last year, Hargreaves left Australia to base herself with Tops-Alexander in Holland to mount her Olympic campaign. The move paid dividends.
“I'm very glad I moved to Europe when I did,” Hargreaves said. “I really needed the time to adjust to the conditions and the surroundings. I was incredibly lucky to have a mentor like Edwina. She has been a huge inspiration and has always been incredibly generous with her knowledge and guidance.”
In addition to the guidance offered by her teammate, Hargreaves has benefited greatly from the coaching of dual Olympian George Sanna. She also put much of her success down to her horse Vedor an eight-year-old warmblood by Indoctro.
“There is no other horse in the world that I would want to be sitting on for my first Olympic experience,” she said. “He is a very generous horse and we've been through quite a lot together, and know each other very well. I really look forward to competing at the Olympics, and he is the main reason for this as he fills me with confidence that there is nothing we can't do.”
Paterson-Robinson will make his Olympic debut in London aged 33 after pulling off a perfect round in the final nomination event – the Bourg-en-Bresse CSI4* Grand Prix in France.
Rounding out the team will be Williams who will be keen to improve on his Beijing results of seventh in the team and 21st in the individual.
On paper the Aussies would appear to have a winning combination to achieve their best ever Olympic results. So can they do it?
“Absolutely!” Hargreaves said. “We have a great team of horses and the riders are loaded with experience.”
All eyes will be on Greenwich Park when jumping gets underway on Day 8, 4 August 2012.
The equestrian jumping section of the 2012 Australian Olympic Team:
NAME AGE NOW AGE AT GAMES BORN LIVES
Julia Hargreaves Vedor 26 26 Hong Kong, Hong Kong Munich, GERMANY
James Paterson-Robinson Lanosso 33 33 Melbourne, VIC Swolgen, NETHERLANDS
Matt Williams Watch Me VD Mangelaar 27 27 Melbourne, VIC Florida, USA
Cevo Itot du Chateau 38 38 Sydney, NSW Valkenswaard, NETHERLANDS