It’s official: I’ve been well and truly struck by Olympic fever. (The figurative kind, mind you, not an actual case of COVID.) I’ve been intently watching all the dressage coverage and then, when it finishes, switching over to literally any other sport that happens to be on, and now I think I might be an expert on men’s volleyball. Maybe. Anyway, as it turns out, I really can cry about anything, even if I don’t understand the rules of what I’m watching at all. Do I understand why everyone’s screaming about the diving? No! Am I sobbing about those little land-seals flinging themselves into the pool with such reckless abandon anyway? Absolutely!
National Holiday: It’s All or Nothing Day. Fitting for an Olympics, sure, but it only makes me think of this bop.
The Weekend in Tokyo:
- The dressage riders were hard at work over the weekend riding the Grand Prix test, the scores of which decided who’d get to proceed to the Freestyle and Special. They’re enjoying a day off today – so catch up on what went down here.
- Japan won its first gold medal of this Olympics, somewhat softening the public mood towards the Games. That medal went to Naohisa Takato, who won the men’s 60kg judo. Since then, four more golds have followed for the home nation in skateboarding (the first-ever Olympic medal won for this sport), the women’s 400m swimming, and twice more in judo.
- Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina retired from an extraordinarily long gymnastics career after failing to qualify for the gymnastics vault final. The 46-year-old has spent many successful years in a sport dominated by under-25s.
- Iranian Taekwondo athlete Kimia Alizadeh beat the British two-time champion Jade Jones in a shock turn of events, very nearly earning the Refugee Team its first-ever medal and shining a light on refugees’ stories in the process.
- Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer came from nowhere to win road race gold by such an extraordinary margin that the second-placed rider thought they’d won. Anna rides as a true amateur, too – the Cambridge grad is a mathematician in her ‘normal’ life.
- Surfing made its Olympic debut, and honestly, this is probably the sport everyone wished they were doing in the scorching 32-degree heat.
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US Weekend Action:
Course Brook Farm Summer H.T.: [Website]
UK Weekend Action:
Aston-le-Walls (3): Results
Warwick Hall (3): Results
Your Monday Reading List:
Olympic athletes have been warned against hugging one another on the podium, as it’s a breach of COVID safety policies. This truly is the year of the awkward elbow tap. [Athletes warned to stop hugging each other on Olympic podium]
Meet Sebastien, the Olympic mount of Canada’s Lindsay Kellock. He’s a grumpy chap with a secret heart of gold and he loves a bit of pumpkin spice, so I feel like we’ll all relate to him a bit. [Stable Personalities: Big Ego, Big Talent, Big Future]
Ireland’s equestrians will all be able to wear yellow ribbons as they compete in Tokyo, to pay respects to much-loved young rider Tiggy Hancock, who died in a training accident recently. [Riding for Tiggy: Ireland’s Olympic team commemorates young rider]
The Germans did what Germans do best and dominated the sand-dancing over the weekend. Did you know that if Isabell Werth wins double gold this week, she’ll become Germany’s most decorated female Olympian of all time? [Germans Show their Might ahead of Team Medal Decider at 2021 Olympics]
Belgian dressage rider Laurence Roos’ grandfather died of COVID – and now the aim is to honour him with super performances at the Games. [‘I lost my grandfather to Covid – I hope I make him proud’]
The FutureTrack Follow:
One of my new favourite games is people-spotting in the background of Olympic coverage, such as the opening ceremony (hi Ludwig Svennerstal! Hello to the top third of Tom Carlile’s head, and the top third only! Howdy, Felix Vogg!) and the dressage competition. Turns out a few of our eventers really like to get up close and personal to the pony prancing, and you won’t be surprised at all to find out which ones. Top tog Peter Nixon is on site in Tokyo for Horse & Hound, and his super photos have given us the golden opportunity for more stalking. See who you can spot in the carousel of images above!
Catherine Dufour‘s 81%+ test with Bohemian nearly made me do a little cry yesterday. They finished up the Grand Prix in second place – and their stunning test is worth at least a cursory glance.