What an amazing finish to the Games. My all-time, always-favourite Nick Skelton has achieved what many have thought impossible – he has won the gold medal despite all the injuries he has had and all the injuries his horse has had. It was a fairytale finish. When I interviewed him at the beginning of the competition he was supremely confident, saying it didn’t matter what size or style of course they put up, his horse was capable. Big Star by name, Big Star by nature. But it makes you think about how influential self-belief is. Nick believed in his horse. And his horse believed in him. It didn’t matter that they were older, more broken and not as classical as all the younger competitors. They won.
It was a the ultimate end for me of the Olympic party I have been involved in. I first met Nick when I was grooming for Jeff McVean on the European circuit back in the early 80s and have always followed his career, with the many ups and downs. I thought he should have won a medal at Athens, with the wonderful Arko, but it wasn’t to be. He was so close at London as well, so to be there when it all worked out for him here in Rio was an awesome achievement. He even made the time to stop for a “Skelfie” with me.
I was also on hand when he caught up with his old mate, commentator Stephen Hadley, who said that he shed a few tears when Nick won gold. Yes, it was the best finish I could have hoped for.
I have bid my farewells to the media manager Anya, and the mixed zone manager Julia, and all the other media staff who went out of their way to make things work for us. They really were outstanding. There were a few issues, but all were worked on and resolved as best they could be. They improved the coffee supply, the internet was great 98% of the time, getting the riders through the mixed zone worked really well and as for that stray bullet, who could have planned for that? We all survived. There were no fights for plugs, chairs, desk space or lockers that I saw. There was little aggression shown and believe me, there have been some ugly incidents before in other media centres. In fact, it was a great group of journalists and photographers working together.
I’ve made some new friends and refreshed some old friendships. There’s a great bunch of equestrian journalists and photographers, really good people. Our last goodbyes always involve “where’s WEG?” – the new game in town. Hopefully, the decision on where the World Champs will be in two years’ time will be made soon and I can catch up with these lovely people!
So I’ve packed my bag, and think I am all ready for another day when I get up early and head off on a bus, this time heading to the airport to leave Rio. I’ve got some time in Buenos Aires, and have some more stories to tell, so when I have recovered from my Olympic hangover, this blog may well continue as I write a few more articles and remember some of the highlights of what has been one of the most amazing experiences in my short (haha) life so far.
Thanks for all the comments and likes on this blog, they’ve kept me going at times when sometimes it did get a bit hard.
Signing out from Rio,