The 2012 Olympics in London is just around the corner. Athletes from countries all over the world will descend upon London to become a part of sporting history. The London 2012 Olympic Games will feature 26 sports, which break down into 39 different disciplines. Equestrianism has long been a part of the Olympics, ever since 1912, when it was held in Stockholm. Thus the London Olympics will celebrate 100 years of equestrian sports, a special event for the horse lover, since it is the only sport involving an animal and the only sport where men and women compete against each other on equal terms. A total of 41 nations have qualified for the equestrian events at the 2012 Olympics; 200 riders will be selected to compete for six gold medals. Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA will field full teams in all three disciplines. Get ready to watch tough and exciting Olympic competition starting July 27th 2012.
Equestrian events are all scheduled to be held at Greenwich Park, London’s oldest Royal Park, dating back to 1433. Located close to the Olympic Village, Greenwich Park includes the Old Royal Naval College and National Maritime Museum, which together form part of a World Heritage Site. The arenas and XC course built in Greenwich Park are temporary and will be removed once the games end.
On May 10th the Olympic Flame will be lit using the sun's rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, in a traditional hour-long ceremony among the historic ruins of the home of the ancient Games. The Flame will then be taken on an eight-day relay around Greece before arriving at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 17 May for the official Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony. The flame will then travel from Athens to the UK in a gold-liveried aircraft. Classified as a symbolic flame it is permitted to be carried on board an aircraft subject to special authorization from the Civil Aviation Authority. The flame will then make its way to Land’s End where it will then begin a 70-day journey across the UK, arriving at the Olympic Stadium on 27th July for the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. During the Torch Relay the flame will travel 8,000 miles across the UK, passing within 10 miles of 95% of the population.
Transport of all other participants to the 2012 Olympics is not as challenging as getting the elite horses there! Approx. 50-60 US Team horses will be “shipped” by FedEx from Newark airport in NJ to Stanstead, England. The horses travel in specially designed jet stalls, two in each container, so they always have company. A veterinarian and groom travel along as well. The horses will be served their in-flight snacks and beverage - in this case it will be hay, carrots and apple juice mixed with water, which will help them stay hydrated during the flight.
Equestrian - Dressage
Olympic dressage runs from August 2nd to 9th. There are two medal opportunities, Team and Individual, these competitions run simultaneously and a rider’s test score may be counted in both events. The team event is based upon two rounds of competition, the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special. The 18 riders with the best scores in the Grand Prix Special qualify for the Grand Prix Freestyle, which determines the Individual medal placing. In the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special, all horse and rider combinations perform the same tests, however in the Grand Prix Freestyle each riders performs an individually choreographed routine set to music.
Equestrian - Eventing
Eventing will be the first equestrian event to be held in Greenwich Park, July 28th-31st. As with all three Equestrian disciplines, the competition features both Individual and Team events. The first phase of the Eventing competition is Dressage and this will occupy the first two days of competition. The judges’ scores for the dressage test are converted into penalty points, which are carried forward to the next stage of the competition. Phase two is the Cross-Country jumping test; the approximately 4 mile course, estimated to contain 42-45 jumping efforts, runs throughout Greenwich Park and was designed by Sue Benson. The Eventing competition gets a grandstand finish in the main arena on Day 4 with the third phase, show jumping. Penalty points, given for jumping errors and time penalties in phase two and three, are added to the dressage score to determine the overall rankings.
Equestrian - Jumping
Show jumping, the first equestrian discipline to be included in the Olympic Games runs from August 4th to 8th. The jumping event takes place in the main arena at Greenwich Park. There are a total of five rounds in the Jumping competition. The first two rounds are used to determine the placings in the Team event; all five rounds contribute to the Individual medal placings. If two or more horse and rider combinations are tied for medal places after the fifth and final round of the Individual event, there will be a jump-off to break the tie.