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The Games are over, LONG LIVE the Games

Will Connell

April 29, 2013 22:30 pm

Last week I flew back in to City Airport from a visit to Denmark where three of our four European Championships will take place later this year (19-25 August). Curiosity and an urge for a dose of nostalgia led me to take the DLR to Stratford International and then the Javelin to St Pancras, rather than Bank and then the debatable luxury of the Underground.

Alighting the DLR at Stratford I was immediately hit by splendid memories flashing in front of my eyes; glorious, sights, colours, sounds, athletic prowess and excellence personified by Team GB on a daily basis– in an instant I was transformed back to August 2012. Then, as the mist cleared I was greeted by sad sights; the Basketball arena now a skeletal structure of Argentinosaurus proportions; the few remaining stubborn girders marking out all that is left of the wings of the Aquatics centre; gone was the International Zone of the Olympic Village and that memorable branding that brought such colour and identity to the London Games.

Easy to be downcast but turning 180o I could see a huge new building, at the Southwest of Westfield, rising afresh towards the heavens. The Olympic Park will always be the place that will invoke the glorious memories of London 2012 but Rio is growing on the horizon and it is a different Games, an exciting challenge, a chance for the next tranche of Team GB heroes to perform and with 1200 days to go (as at 21st April 2013) it is a challenge that we in Equestrian are well and truly embracing.

Rio planning started back in early 2011 and as soon as the Paralympics were over (we are a completely integrated sport) the afterburners were ignited on Project Rio. Detailed plans were submitted to UK Sport and following a very complete examination of said plans, funding was approved by UK Sport and the road to Rio was illuminated. It is a glorious trilogy; BOA ↔ UK Sport ↔ professional World Class Programmes. It is a world leading, world beating catalyst to success in Rio.

2013 is a transitory year; some horses have moved on but all our athletes are focused on Rio. We are very reliant on our Horse Owners (two per horse have accreditation for the Olympic Games) and they are at the epicentre of our plans and any medal success we achieve. Our Championships this year are the Europeans in Denmark and Sweden but our top athlete / horse combinations will be at a range of competitions...many of these in the UK – Badminton / Hickstead / GCT London (next to the Olympic park) / Chatsworth / Burghley / Hartpury / Blenheim / Bramham / Houghton Hall; many of these are glorious parks and historic houses; please come and visit us and see the equestrian athletes in action. The Games are over, LONG LIVE the Games.

Baked Potato becomes Até depois. Work it out!!

Will Connell MBE

Equestrian Performance Director