On Tuesday, August 3, show jumpers from 34 nations took their turns around the first course of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games―the individual qualifying round. This year the Olympic rules have changed in several ways.
First, there will only be teams of three horse-and-rider combinations, not four with a drop score as there has been in the past. Second, in addition to the fact that the individual medals will be awarded first, there will only be one qualifying round each for both the individual and team medals followed the next day by the final round for individual and team medals. The other change is that in the final round for both individual and team medals, the scores from the previous qualifiers will be wiped, and every rider or team starts fresh on equal footing.
The course for the first show jumping individual qualification round at the Tokyo Olympics, designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela, was sizeable, colorful and asked technical questions. To illustrate the culture of the host nation, each jump featured a decorative theme from Japan, including sumo wrestlers, koi goldfish, the Tokyo skyline, festivals, kimonos, origami, traditional musical instruments, museums, birds and animals, as well as the Tokyo and Rio Olympic Games jumps.
Seventy-three horse-and-rider combinations tackled the individual qualifying round, and 25 exited happy to have produced fault-free rounds. An additional four jumped clear, but incurred just one time fault. And, one more horse-and-rider jumped clear, but went over the time to add two points. These three groups make up the 30 who were invited back to compete in the final later that evening.
Among the 30 who qualified to move on are all three riders for Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan and Sweden, and two riders each for Egypt, Israel, The Netherlands and Switzerland. The remaining seven riders of the top 30 are one each from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway and Portugal.
Unfortunately, even though the U.S. riders and their horses looked fresh and ready to jump in the area, some unlucky rubs and toe tips brought rails down for all three, keeping all of them out of the final. Kent Farrington on Gazelle and Jessica Springsteen on Don Juan van de Donkhoeve each had one rail and Laura Kraut and Baloutinue had two.
It is interesting to note that all three U.S. riders brought a rail down at the same fence, 13a, which was part of the Japanese Hairpins and Bow double, with Kraut and Baloutinue also lowering the last fence on course, the Japanese musical instrument jump. The American riders will now save their horses for the team competition, which begins later this week with the qualifying round on Friday, August 6.
With the Mexican riders also out of the individual competition, the sole representative for North America in the individual final will be Canada’s Mario Deslauriers riding his 12-year-old Holsteiner mare Bardolina 2. Deslauriers and Bardolina left all the jumps up and blazed around the course last night, logging the fifth-fastest time.
“It felt a little rough, but my mare fought with me the whole time, and we worked it out and got a great result,” said Deslauriers of his round with Bardolina whom he also competed at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.
“Bardolina’s very catty,” he said. “She goes a little to the right all the time, but she always wants to go. She’s very bloody, very touchy—too much sometimes. I have to compensate a little bit, try to keep her straight, but she’s done it well, so I’m totally happy.”
Full results from the show jumping individual qualification round at the Tokyo Olympics.