Hong Kong 7th August
Australian Eventing Team works together to try for Olympic success
The Australian Eventing Team riders are hoping to regain the Olympic Gold medal they could not defend in Athens in 2004 after consecutive wins in Sydney, Atlanta and Barcelona."We have prepared for every scenario and we're hoping for good conditions,'' said Chef d'Equipe Rob Hanna. “We're ready to get on with it” he said.
The Australian team is drawn from both Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The team consists of British-based Clayton Fredericks (41), Lucinda Fredericks (42) and Australia-based Megan Jones (31), Shane Rose (35) and Sonja Johnson (40).Three of the horse/rider combinations were part of the Australian team that came third at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006, one of Australia’s best WEG results.
Winning a the Sydney Interational 3 Day Event in April ensured a place on the Olympic team for Sonja Johnson.''Anyone who puts on the Australia shirt competes to do their best and I will do mine", Johnson said.
Megan Jones attended the Atlanta 1996 Olympics Games as a groom and was part of the Bronzew medal team at WEG in 2006. Second placing behind Johnson in Sydney and then victory in the Melbourne International 3 day event in June ensured that she came to Hong Kong as a competitor.
Shane Rose, who gained a third placing at Burghley in 2006, was second behind Jones in Melbourne. He is familiar with Hong Kong, having placed third in the test event held here last year.
Husband and wife team Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks have been going from strength to strength in the past season.Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time were a close second to Zara Phillips from Great Britain (and granddaughter to the Queen of England) in the individual 2006 World Championships in Aachen and then won the 2007 four-star event in Kentucky, USA.
Lucinda Fredericks won the 2007 Badminton title on Headley Britannia, the horse she will ride in Hong Kong. Formerly riding for Great Britain, She is competing for Australia at Olympic level for the first time after adopting Australian citizenship in 2000.In addition to competing at the Beijing Olympic Games they have also played a part in the success of others.
Asian Eventers Hua Tian (CHN) and Yoshiaki Oiwa (JPN), set to make their Olympic debuts at the Beijing 2008 Games, both trained in Great Britain. From the age of 10, Hua trained under leading Eventing couple Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks in the UK. He won the Queen's Trophy for show jumping at the 2006 Royal Windsor Horse Show.
As the tables turn, the Fredericks are among his rivals in the cross-country event, in which he rides 12-year-old grey gelding FBW Chico. Hua Tian, 18, was a FEl-registered professional rider at 14. He is the first Chinese eventer to compete at the Olympics and the youngest male rider competing in the Games.Born in London, HUA began riding at four while living in Beijing. He later moved to Hong Kong and received training at Beas River, where the Eventing cross-country test will be held.
Coached by another Australian with a wealth of Olympic experience, Japan's only Eventing rider at the Games is 32-year-old Yoshiaki Oiwa. He trained in Great Britain under Bettina and Andrew HOY, another well-known married couple in the sport.Oiwa won an individual Gold and team Silver for Japan on Khanjer Black at the Doha 2006 Asian Games. In 2005, he came 11th on Voyou Du Roc at the Badminton Horse Trials, the highest placing ever achieved there by a Japanese rider. Riding as an individual in Beijing, Oiwa will ride another 12-year-old grey, Georgeous George.
The Australian’s will be working very much as a team. Australia has won 10 Equestrian Olympic medals, all in Eventing. ''This is a tradition. We don't just call on yesterday, we call on years of work and compete as a team, in harmony,'' said Bill Roycroft, an Olympic medalist and the 2008 team leader.
© Cyberhorse 2008 Toni-Anne Collins