Twenty-three Olympic-bound show jumpers have been in action at this week’s Longines Global Champions Tour meeting in Valkenswaard, Netherlands. The next action they will see will be in team and individual events in Rio. Here, some of the Olympians give their views on the upcoming show jumping events in Brazil. Interviews courtesy of LGCT.

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!”

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.”

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.”

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): “It’s going to be a big Grand Prix (Valkenswaard, Saturday) 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.”