Sir Mark Todd is New Zealand’s most-capped Olympian. In any sport. Ever. He’s also been the NZ eventing team’s coach (for Athens) and has even been involved in boycotting the Games (at Moscow). He has been selected for nine Olympics, and Rio will be the eighth one he has actually competed at (at one his horse was lame and he didn’t start), yet when he got the call-up for the Rio Olympics, he was tickled pink when NZ Horse & Pony interviewed him.
“It feels just like the first time, really. It is what I have worked for. After London, I decided I would keep going for another four years and try and get to Rio, and I have achieved that. All the other ones that I have been to… well, it sort of feels like they don’t really count. It is all about the one that you are going to.
“It takes me back to when I first got nominated for Moscow in 1980. And then New Zealand boycotted. I thought, “Oh God, I’ve had my chance to get to the Olympic Games and it’s been taken away.” Little did I think back then that 36 years later I would still be excited about going to an Olympic Games.”
We asked Sir Mark what he thought Rio would be like and whether he had any concerns. He’s optimistic.
“Every Olympics has its own flavour and you can never really compare them, but I think when it was announced that Rio was getting the Games, everyone thought wow, Rio, Carnival City, they will really turn it out. The reality is that Brazil is a country in crisis and they are trying to hold an Olympic Games. Having dealt with Brazilian people, I know that they do everything absolutely last-minute but I have this hope and belief that everything always seems to happen on the day okay, and that it will be okay. They are a very hospitable and friendly nation, so I am hoping it is all going to work well. Every venue is different and you just have to be adaptable to the local conditions.”
Mark will have the support in Rio of his beautiful wife, Carolyn who has attended a fair number of Olympics before as well. The couple’s two children, James and Lauren, won’t be making the trip.
“The kids unfortunately couldn’t get the time off work, so they won’t be coming.” He added, sounding a little relieved at the thought: “It’s horrendously expensive!”
FEI World Eventing Ranking : 6
Date of Birth: 1 March 1956
Place of Birth: Cambridge, New Zealand
Medals: Two gold, three bronze (two team, one individual)
Rio 2016 is the ninth games Mark has been selected for, but the eighth games he will have attended. Twice he competed in both eventing and show jumping disciplines.