While this isn’t Jock Paget’s first Olympics, it is his first trip to Brazil. He represented New Zealand in London as part of our bronze-medal-winning team. But, when we spoke to him after the Rio team was named, he was still buzzing from getting the call-up. It certainly meant a lot to him.
“Any chance to represent your country is always a great opportunity and I am always grateful for it.”
He wasn’t sure how different Rio would be from his Olympic experience in London. “I don’t know the country or the city, or what it is going to be like at all. Yes, we are going to Rio but it is more that we are going to a competition – and yes, it is the Olympics, but it wouldn’t matter where it was. But because it is the Olympics, there are going to be people everywhere and it is a logistical nightmare how it is all put together. London was run extremely well and I had never been to an Olympics before, but everyone said that it was impressive how well they did do it, so hopefully it is going to be as good as that was, or better.”
Meticulous planning is Jock’s forte and he is known for being very systematic in his approach to his sport. He has obviously thought about the cross-country phase quite a bit, but it is the rest of the competition and the conditions that may cause the biggest challenges: “I think we are just having to really pay attention to everything,” he says.
“I know the course builder, Pierre Michelet; I know his style, I’ve ridden a few of his courses, so we understand what to prepare for on that side. Apart from that, it is just going to be arriving, scoping the place out and working out how to get through it as best as you can for your horse.”
Pierre Michelet, from France, built the course at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and is the regular course-builder at Pau, Fontainebleu and Le Lion d’Angers.
Jock’s wife Tegan has job commitments and isn’t able to travel to Rio, and he is not sure whether his family will be there either. “It’s very hard for them to plan when they don’t know if you are going to get on the team. And you know what horses are like: everything can change so quickly. They might be there, it’s not completely off the table, but nothing is set in stone.
“It is tough for your family to go to a competition like that. You can’t get them in with you, they are just there as spectators, so they will actually get a better view from the lounge room!”
Jonathan (Jock) Paget: