Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Olympic riders speak out before heading to Rio

23 Olympic riders are in action at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard and the stars of show jumping have been speaking about their hopes for Rio and today’s high stakes Grand Prix.

© LGCT / Stefano Grasso

© LGCT / Stefano Grasso

With last night’s Rio opening ceremony kicking off the Games, top riders will be jetting out of Europe to Brazil straight after the Grand Prix which promises to be a supreme test in their final top-level competition before the Olympics.

It’s set to be a phenomenal battle this afternoon with the top three in the LGCT ranking all in action for the Grand Prix and in a pivotal position to take the lead in the overall Champion of Champions battle. Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) currently holds the top spot with a score of 234, just two points ahead of long-time leader and new World No1 Christian Ahlmann (GER), who has a tally of 232 points overall.

Third place man Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) sits on 200 points overall, however has the advantage with his score counting – a win here, with 40 points in the bag could rocket him up the leaderboard if Edwina and Christian fail to score higher than any of their results to date.

An impressive 7 out of the world’s top 10 will be in action and looking to fight their way up the rankings and will be  disrupt the three horse race to the final in Doha.

Here are the thoughts of show jumping’s top athletes ahead of Rio:

Christian Ahlmann (GER):

“The horses are flying out Sunday, and we’re flying out Monday, but before all this we enjoy the show here in Valkenswaard. It’s a very important show here and we’ll try to give our best before we leave to Rio.”

Ludger Beerbaum (GER):

“I think really taking part in the Olympic Games is the ultimate achievement really in any sport – every time it has been a really special feeling, emotion and the focus and preparation is more than any normal show. Who’s going to win I can’t tell you, but I wouldn’t mind if we stayed on top!”

Harrie Smolders (NED):

“I think you stay in the rhythm, the show rhythm – that’s very important I think, to do it every week so you’re not surprised about times and rhythms in the course and it’s really good to keep up.”

Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE):

“It’s something very special. It’s something that’s every fourth year – some years you may not have a horse or get picked on the team for your country and you cannot go, and then you have to wait another four years to have the chance to maybe go – you feel great when you’ve done it and the next few times when you come back you want more. You want to compete and be there and also be as good as possible.”

Nicola Philippaerts (BEL):

“Valkenswaard is a fantastic show, it’s good to measure the level again and I think there are so many top riders here. It’s good for the rider himself to keep motivated and to stay strong to get in the higher level here and try to be good here as well just before the Olympics.”

Maikel van der Vleuten (NED):

“It’s good to do different shows before [the Olympics] so to stay focused. It’s good to be busy with other horses to be somewhere else with your mind.”

Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS):

“To give yourself the best preparation and time, and not have such a big gap. It’s going to be a big Grand Prix and to put yourself a little bit in that same atmosphere. I think we have most of the top 10 here as well. It’s great to be able to get straight on the plane on Sunday and get straight into it.”

Jerome Guery (BEL):

“I’m really excited – it was a dream since I was a kid to go one time to the Olympics. I’m really lucky that all this year I did a lot of the Global Champions Tours, and I practice on the Global to prepare my horse for the Olympics. I hope I’m ready for that and we’ll see next week!”

Marcus Ehning (GER):

“I think we have a really strong team. If you see all these riders, three of them are in the top ten, and Ludger is not far behind. On the paper we have a very strong team, but it’s one show and you have to be in the right shape. It’s difficult to say before but I think there are a couple of very good nations – the countries get stronger and stronger and I think it will be a hard fight.”

The Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard will kick off at 16:00 local time. The event will be broadcast live from the second round on Eurosport, plus across a variety of networks around the globe, as well as live via GCT TV for the full Grand Prix. For all the broadcast information, please click here. 

For further information about the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard, please click here.


You may also like…

Join us on Facebook

Follow on Twitter