4 riders to 3: a big change for team jumping at Tokyo Games
HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: The individual defending champions from London 2012 all won gold again — Germany’s Michael Jung in eventing, Charlotte Dujardin in dressage and fellow British rider Nick Skelton in show jumping on Big Star, the same horse he won gold with four years earlier. In the team medal events there were all new champions. Germany won team dressage and France took both the eventing and jumping team golds. Germany, France and Britain took two golds each but Germany won the medal count by also claiming two silver and two bronze medals.
WHAT’S NEW: Due to competitor restrictions encouraged by the IOC, team jumping will feature only three riders, not four, for the first time at an Olympics. That puts extra pressure on each country’s trio of riders because there won’t be a fourth, or worst, score to throw out when computing placings. It will also be easier for the public and television viewers to understand the current standings as the event transpires.
TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: The usual big three — Germany, France and Britain — will likely be at the top of the medal standings again across all three disciplines. Dressage veteran Isabell Werth of Germany is the most successful rider in Olympic history with 10 medals — six gold and four silver — at five Olympics. The 51-year-old Werth is expected to duel with defending champion Dujardin for gold in Tokyo.
ATHLETE/HORSE COMBINATIONS TO WATCH: Jung is back, aiming for a third consecutive gold medal in eventing but with a new horse, Chipmunk. Jung won both his previous golds riding Sam. The extra year competing with his new horse because of the 2020 postponement should work in his favor. After making his Olympic debut in Los Angeles in 1984, three-time Olympic gold medalist Andrew Hoy’s selection for Australia’s eventing team extends his own national record of most Olympic appearances, becoming the 13th athlete in Olympic history to make eight Games. Dressage rider Mary Hanna, who is 66, extends the record she set in Rio as the oldest Australian Olympic competitor. Hanna will contest her sixth Games aboard her mare Calanta.
GOLD MEDAL MOMENTS: July 27: team dressage; July 28: individual dressage; Aug. 2: team eventing and individual eventing; Aug. 4: individual jumping; Aug. 7: team jumping.
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