Eventing Athletes up the Ante as Tokyo Olympics Looms
- 10 March 2020, 17:36
Following the exciting announcement last month that Chivers, part of the Boyne Valley Group, has come on board as a new sponsor of the Irish senior eventing team we caught up with senior high-performance eventing-squad member Brian Morrison to talk about training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and his ambitions for the year ahead.
In June, four horse and athlete combinations will be nominated to the Olympic Federation of Ireland by Horse Sport Ireland’s Eventing High Performance Director, Sally Corscadden, to travel to Tokyo as part of the Irish Olympic eventing team, but ultimately just three combinations will compete, and one will act as the alternate Athlete and Horse combination (travelling reserve).
The senior eventing squad’s performances speak for themselves – they became Ireland’s first sports team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when they secured team silver at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. Members of the Irish Eventing squad have built on this success over the past 18 months, securing both an individual World Silver medal and Individual European Bronze medal for Ireland as well as a team podium finish in the Nations Cup at Camphire International Horse Trials and numerous individual wins at the highest international level.
Most recently, Irish Eventing riders enjoyed an excellent weekend at Barroca D’Alva in Portugal with Padraig McCarthy and Leonidas II winning the feature CCI 4*-L competition. Cathal Daniels was also in impressive form finishing third in the CCI 4*-L with Michelle Nelson and Kieran Connors’ OLS King Aragon (ISH) and fourth in the CCI4*-S with Sarah Hughes’ Shannondale Percy (ISH).
PREPARATIONS RAMP UP
At the time of writing there are 156 days to the Olympics and preparations are really ramping up. There is huge competition for those three coveted places on Ireland’s 2020 Olympic eventing team and squad member Brian Morrison will be hoping to secure one of those places with one of his top two horses, Global Orchid (ISH) or Global Daenerys.
“The biggest thing I’m personally taking away from the Horse Sport Ireland High-Performance training is an awareness of the challenges that will be posed to both horse and rider out in Tokyo and what I can do to manage those challenges,” Brian begins.
“I was in Mexico recently and one of the days it was about 95% humidity and 32 degrees Celsius, which is similar to what athletes will be facing in Tokyo. I went out for a run and it really made me appreciate just how difficult the heat and humidity are going to make life out there. As a result, I have made changes to my nutrition and fitness regime.
“There’s so much time and effort being put in by so many people to get a team to Tokyo that the last thing I would want is to get out there and not be able to perform to the best of my ability because I am just not fit enough or the heat is having too much of an impact on my performance. I think as a rider it’s the very least that I can do. Traditionally I don’t think riders are taken seriously as athletes and maybe riders tend to not take themselves seriously, but I think that’s one thing collectively that has to improve.”
HORSE HEALTH A TOP PRIORITY
“The health and fitness of the horse is paramount,” Brian continues. “A lot of effort is going in to making sure they are in perfect condition and will have the best possible chance to deal with the change in climate. Travelling that far and the conditions – it’s going to be a new challenge for all of us, but the whole Horse Sport Ireland High-Performance Eventing Programme is second to none, our team of coaches, physios, vets and support staff could not be any better. The whole team of people around us are brilliant and we as a squad are seeing massive improvements and I think our results speak for themselves.
“The suppliers and sponsors of Horse Sport Ireland have been a huge support too and the squad is very excited that Chivers have come on board to support our Olympic journey. Having the support of companies like Chivers and expert equestrian brands like Horseware, Equiline, Dubarry and TRM etc. means that riders can feel confident and focused on the job at hand. From the kit we are supplied with to the training – it’s all so good that I think whoever goes to the Olympics will feel confident and at ease.”