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RIO Olympic Equine Qualifier Update
 By Winniefield Park   •   23rd Jul 2016   •   1,896 views   •   0 comments


Venue catastrophes, Zika virus, dodgy contracts, water pollution, lawsuits, alleged corruption, equine disease outbreaks and more have dogged the preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics. But, on August 5, the largest international sports competition will begin and let’s hope that it’s the triumphant athletes that make the headlines for the duration. This year, over 10,000 athletes will be competing in 28 different sports.

The equestrian competitions start on August 7th and the venue is the Deodora Equestrian Center in Rio de Janeiro. Medals will be awarded in team and individual competitions in dressage, show jumping and eventing. Currently, 43 countries have qualified to send either teams or riders. And, five countries will be making debut appearances: Chinese Taipei, Dominican Republic, Palestine, Qatar and Zimbabwe.

There have been a few upsets on the road to Rio for the riders themselves. Captain Canada Ian Millar did not qualify to compete in what would have been his 11th consecutive Olympic games. Millar’s horse Dickson required two sinus surgeries and did not recover in time to qualify. The Millar name will go to Rio however. Amy Millar, Ian Millar’s youngest daughter will make her Olympic debut riding a horse named Heros. Ian Millar himself is far from sidelined. The 69 year old rider is working with a new horse named Vittorio. Maybe number 11 will be in four years for the elder Millar?

Related: Hiroshi Hoketsu at 74 Years Old to Qualify for Rio Olympics
Related: Will Rio Summer Olympics Equestrian Venue be Ready After Troubled Start
Related: Deadly Equine Glanders Disease Outbreak at Rio Olympic Stables

You can only imagine Millar’s disappointment at not being in Rio as a competitor, but it could only be worse for British event rider Izzy Taylor. Taylor was to make her Olympic debut, but after her horse sustained an injury during training Taylor was forced to withdraw from the British Eventing team. She’s been replaced by three time eventing medalist Pippa Funnell. Hopefully she’ll get another shot at an Olympic spot in four years time.

Remember Hiroshi Hoketsu? He was one of the oldest Olympic athletes ever. Back in May, Hoketsu announced his bid for an Olympic spot this summer had come to an end. Hoketsu’s new horse Brioni W has been plagued by soundness issues. Another 70 year old rider, Dr. Jorge Ferreira da Roche of Brazil also failed to qualify for an Olympic spot after missing qualifying events due to personal health problems.

The U.S. equestrian teams have had a smoother ride and there are some very familiar names on the roster. Former Olympians Maclean Ward, Beezie Madden, Phillip Dutton and Steffan Peters will be heading for Rio. The U.S. has qualified one team in each discipline.

On the upside for those attending is that the accommodations, weather and stabling are nothing out of the ordinary. There shouldn’t be extreme heat or humidity as competitors had to prepare for in Atlanta and Barcelona. While it may be high summer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s technically winter in Brazil. Altitude and thin air won’t be a factor as it was in Mexico City. Riders are reporting challenging but not unduly dangerous cross country and stadium jumping courses.

So, how do we watch our favorite riders? Thankfully, Brazil’s time zone is UTC-4. Most of the US east is either UTC-4, -5 or -6. The west coast is UTC-8, So for viewers in North America you won’t need to get up to watch live broadcasts at 3AM. In fact, if you have to work, most of the action will take place during business hours. In the US, NBC will be carrying Olympic coverage. The CBC will be Canada’s Olympic station along with coverage by TSN. In Britain you can catch televised events on BBC Sport and in Australia, Seven Network will be carrying Olympic coverage.
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