Three riders will be aiming to win Olympic Individual Gold for the second time in today’s show jumping Final at the Deodoro Equestrian Arena in Rio.
London 2012 winner Steve Guerdat will be hoping for a repeat with Nino des Buissonnets. If the Swiss rider succeeds he will make Olympic history by becoming the first rider ever to win the event twice on the same horse.
Canadian Eric Lamaze is another former Gold-Medalist in the event. Lamaze won in Beijing in 2008 with Hickstead, and rides Fine Lady this time. The other former Gold Medal winner, Belgian Jeroen Dubbledam, who rides Zenith, was successful in 2000 in Sydney with De Sjiem.
There are no Individual Silver or Bronze winners among the remainder of the field, though quite a few have won Team medals. Only Guerdat and Lamaze have won both Team and Individual Olympic medals.
Lamaze was the only rider to go through the three qualifying rounds for this event without a single fault, and while all competitors revert to a zero score today, Lamaze will have the advantage of being last to jump. “You can’t help but feel good about it so far,” he said. “It is a testament to how good your horse is jumping. Of course there’s always the unknown. This sport can bring bad news very quickly and the last day is going to be a Grand Prix course.”
World number one Christian Ahlmann of Germany is expected to be a big challenger with Taloubet Z.
In what has been a poor year so far for British show jumping, Ben Maher (Tic Tac) and Nick Skelton (Big Star) will be hoping to dispel some of the gloom. The British team were unsuccessful in their bid to the defend the Team title they won in London, and didn’t make the cut for Wednesday’s Team Final which was won by France.
There will be plenty for local fans to get excited about as three Brazilians have qualified for the Final. Doda de Miranda, who was a Team Bronze-Medalist at both Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, rides Cornetto K, while Pedro Veniss partners Quabri de l’Isle and Eduardo Menezes competes with Quintol.
“We all dream of medals, but so many things need to go right,” said Lamaze.
All riders start off on a zero score in today’s first round (2pm Irish time) and the best 20 will go forward to the deciding round later in the day. Mike Dunne.