‘Every athlete’s dream’: Sweden, USA and Belgium reflect on their Olympic team showjumping medals

  • The riders from Sweden’s Olympic showjumping gold medal-winning team at the Tokyo Games have described the victory as a “dream come true”.

    Peder Fredricson and All In, Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Indiana, and Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward clinched the gold in a tense jump-off against McLain Ward and Contagious, Laura Kraut and Baloutine and Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve for the USA.

    Peder, the final Swedish rider to jump, said coming to the last he “did what he could”.

    “The pressure was on, my god. It’s not that you don’t want a silver, but in these situations when you are two teams, you really want to win,” he said.

    “McLain [Ward] was fast but All In is also fast. I saw [McLain’s] round, and I knew what I had to do. Today the poles stayed up and the time was on my side this time.

    “It’s unbelievably satisfying. I really think my horse deserves it. I’m so happy for him, his owner, his groom, my teammates – it’s a great feeling.”

    Peder, who also claimed individual silver earlier in the week, said a lot of mental preparation took place ahead of the Games.

    “It’s a bit like running a marathon; you have to train and physically be fit – and it’s the same with the mental pressure, you have to be prepared,” he said. “You can’t lie on the sofa, then show up and do it, it’s a lot of hard work.”

    Malin said to win an Olympic gold medal is “every athlete’s dream”.

    “We have a team behind us that’s incredible; everyone is involved in this medal. The way we have ridden shows how confident we’ve been and they’ve all made it possible for us to totally focus on what we had to do in there,” she said.

    Henrik von Eckermann missed out on an individual medal with King Edward on Wednesday (4 August) and said taking the team gold was “even more special now”.

    “It was frustrating [placing fourth individually], but I’m so happy with myself. I took myself together and said ‘leave what I can’t change behind me and focus on this – we have an unbelievable chance’.” said Henrik.

    “No one can say we didn’t deserve it. Somehow when we went into the jump-off we felt so prepared.”

    King Edward was the only horse in the Olympic showjumping competition to produce clears in every round.

    “They should have two medals – one for the horse,” he said. “He’s a tribute to himself, the way he does it, he’s unbelievable.

    “I knew he had the possibility to do what he did, but to do it, is completely out there. It’s amazing. There’s so many people to thank. We had a fantastic team from the beginning to the end.”

    Team USA’s McLain Ward said it was “great to be in the battle” with Sweden.

    “Sweden has been lights out – it wasn’t unexpected here, but they took it to another level. We would have had to have had an incredible day to beat them,” he said.

    “I think we pushed them right to the limits, and in competition when you push them to that limit and they still win, you’ve got to be proud.”

    Jessica Springsteen, who was second to go for USA in the jump-off, said collecting a medal at her first Olympics felt “unbelievable”.

    “Watching the last couple go, wondering if we’re going to have to jump-off or not you definitely start to get the jitters but it was also super exciting,” she said.

    Laura Kraut added “this is what we do it for”.

    “It’s a lot of work and a lot of sweat and tears but I’m thrilled, and I’m so fortunate to have a great team,” she said.

    “Kent Farrington [USA’s alternate rider in the team competition] has also been an incredible teammate. He was here supporting us the whole time and he was ready to step in if we felt any of ours were not up for the job.”

    The Belgian team of Pieter Devos and Claire Z, Jerome Guery and Quel Homme De Hus and Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S took bronze.

    Gregory said the team had done “something amazing” for their country: “Everyone is proud and part of it.”

    Pieter said there was “huge pressure” under the new Olympic format.

    “It will be an Olympics that will be remembered forever. You have responsibility towards the team so nothing can go wrong. We proved together we could handle that pressure,” he said.

    “It was my first Olympics so I didn’t know what to expect, but I can say it was tough sport at the highest level possible. The course designer did fantastic job that’s for sure, and it was a fantastic venue.”

    Jerome added he was “really happy“ with the team’s bronze medal.

    “You represent a lot; all the people who work behind us, the country, horse sport in Belgium. We worked for it and it feels amazing,” he said.

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