A grandmother of four tackling her sixth Games; the most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport and the first Singaporean to ever ride between the white boards at an Olympics.
The Olympic dressage kicks off in Tokyo this Friday, 23 July, with the first horse inspection and there is a lot of equestrian action to look forward to watching over the next couple of weeks. Until then, here are some fascinating facts and figures you might not already know…
- 30 countries taking part
- 15 teams
- 15 countries represented by individual competitors
- 60 horse/athlete combinations
- Germany are defending team champions and are chasing down their 14th Olympic Equestrian Dressage team title
- In the history of Olympic dressage, which dates back to 1912, Germany has long been the dominant force, taking 13 team and seven individual titles
- Defending individual champion is Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, who scooped double gold with the great Valegro at London 2012 and individual gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
- Dujardin and Valegro consistently set world records throughout their spectacular career together and continue to hold all three world records in dressage (FEI Grand Prix, FEI Grand Prix Special and FEI Grand Prix Freestyle)
- At the London International Horse Show in 2014, they set the Grand Prix record at 87.460%, and at the same event posted a new Freestyle World Record when achieving 94.300%
- The Grand Prix Special world record score of 88.022%, which they set at Hagen in Germany in 2012, has never been beaten
- Germany’s Isabell Werth (pictured top), aged 51, will be competing in her sixth Olympic Games and is the most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport
- She has 10 Olympic medals in her trophy cabinet and six of them are gold. The first was awarded in Barcelona in 1992 and the last at Rio de Janeiro in 2016
- At Rio, Werth surpassed the record held for many years by The Netherlands’ Anky van Grunsven, who collected nine Olympic medals throughout her spectacular career
- Riding Gigolo, Werth claimed individual gold in Atlanta in 1996 and she is a four-time individual silver medallist
- Caroline Chew, 27, is set to become the first Singaporean to compete in equestrian sport at the Olympic Games when she participates in dressage
16 — Grandmother’s Games
However, at Olympic Games the show-stealers are often the less obvious. Australia’s Mary Hanna, whose horse Calanta was the very first to arrive into the stables at Baji Koen Equestrian Park in Tokyo early last week, is a case in point. Because equestrian fans all around the world are already putting their hearts behind this mother of two and grandmother of four who, at the age of 66, is tackling her sixth Olympics.
Apart from the Beijing Games in 2008, she has been a member of every Australian Olympic Dressage team since 1996, and that’s quite some record. She’s as proud as ever to be flying her country’s flag alongside Kelly Layne riding Samhitas and Simone Pearce with Destano.
See the full Olympic equestrian timetable here.
Words by Louise Parkes