The eventing phase is over, and I don’t have time to think about what if, or what could have been, or whatever, really! It’s now the first day of dressage. While it would have been nice to have a day to catch up with myself, sort my hundreds of photos, write the many stories I have in my head, and actually pause to reflect on what actually happened in the last four days, the schedule does not allow this, so it is onwards to the dressage.
Julie and Steiny (I’ve always thought what a great nickname that is for a horse representing New Zealand) get to have their moment in the Olympic spotlight. I’ll have a whole new lot of equestrian media people around me, plus a few of those who are here for the entirety who have also just been on the eventing roller-coaster.
I say goodbye to my eventing media buddies; we’ve been through the highs and lows together, and it was great to see Jenni’s delight when Phillip Dutton came through for the Americans and won an individual bronze medal. My roommate Debbie also heads off today, happy with her Australians winning the team bronze. We’ve had some laughs on the buses, in the media centre, and in the mess tent, but last night’s really tops them all.
Debbie had bought one of the few bottles of wine the little shop in the Accommodation Village sold. She had owned it for a few days, thwarted at getting the cork out by the severe lack of corkscrews. Last night, a steely determination was shown, as she swore that bottle was going to help wash down her last dinner from the Mess Tent (which happened to be the worst yet, and that’s saying something). Even Chris Hector, who has been spotted each night with either a partially empty or totally empty bottle of red, couldn’t help us: his corkscrew had broken too and he had resorted to pushing the cork into the wine to get it open.
Then we spotted some newbies in the Village. It turned out they were the dressage judges and they had a good line-up of reds, with some of them open. They were a friendly bunch and were happy to share their corkscrews with us. The first broke off in the cork. The second followed suit. One of them went back to their room and emerged with a different type of corkscrew which also malfunctioned, so we were left with a bottle of wine with half a cork and three bits of corkscrew in its neck.
Stephen Hadley joined us, with his just-delivered pizza. He had found an alternative food source, and it looked very appealing compared with the offerings from the Mess Tent. The dressage judges offered us some of their open wine – they really were a friendly bunch, but we could see that as our wine had broken three of their precious corkscrews, and they still had unopened bottles on the table, there could potentially be a change in relations should we tuck into their scarce resource of opened wine. Plus we really wanted to beat this wine.
Jenni Autry is a resourceful woman. With a strong upper thrust to the underside of our wooden table, the sticky-out-bit of the corkscrew was propelled back into the bottle and, with the cork, quickly sank to the bottom. Victory! We were in! And no, we couldn’t taste cork or corkscrew flavours.
I’ll miss my eventing media colleagues who fly out today, but I reckon that when it really comes down to leaving this afternoon, Jenni and Debbie will quietly wish they too were here for just a few more days. It’s been a whirlwind in a bubble, as we have either been in the Accommodation Village or at the venue. While we would have had a lot of fun as a group doing a bit of sightseeing, that’s not why we are here, so ‘au revoir’ eventer media, and hello dressage people!