Michael Jung. (FEI / Arnd Bronkhurst)
Next month’s Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event, which runs from 12-14 August, boasts a truly world-class field, including reigning Olympic champion and multi-medalled German athlete Michael Jung. The 17 athletes from four nations – Japan, Germany, Australia, and Great Britain – have between them amassed an incredible tally of 74 medals at Olympic, world, and continental Games and Championships.
Jung (37), the first and so far only Eventing athlete to have held the world, Olympic, and European titles at the same time, has won 20 medals of which 12 are gold, including back-to-back Olympic titles and a team gold in London 2012. He is joined by triple Olympic team gold medallist Andrew Hoy (AUS), all four of Japan’s Asian Games 2018 gold medal team among an 11-strong Japanese squad, and five-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt (GBR), who has no fewer than 23 medals to his name.
The strength of the host nation has been increasingly underlined recently, with Japan taking team and individual gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), and the team finishing fourth and just out of the medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) last September. And the successes have continued unabated this season, with the team winning the Olympic Groups F and G qualifier at Saumur (FRA) in June, while Japanese athletes have claimed no less than three CCI4* wins.
Kazuma Tomoto (36) topped the leaderboard at the CCI4* events in Chatsworth (GBR) and Ballindenisk (IRL) this spring, while Yoshiaki Oiwa (43) took individual honours in the Polish CCI4* at Strzegom at the end of last month with Bart L, the 13-year-old gelding he steered to double gold at the Asian Games. The Dutch-bred was previously ridden by Frenchman Matthieu Lemoine rode to team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. So the writing is clearly on the wall – Japan is on a medal march in Tokyo next year!
Cross country course designer Derek Di Grazia (USA) has built a special track for the test event and, while athletes, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Federations (NFs) will have the chance to assess the undulations of the terrain at Sea Forest, Di Grazia will be giving nothing away about his Olympic course for next year’s Games.
“We have a truly star-studded cast for our Ready Steady Tokyo test event next month, when some of the world’s most decorated Eventing athletes and their equine partners will have the opportunity to trial our two fabulous venues and, at the same time, provide a taster of the level of equestrian action that will be on offer at the Games next year,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “I can’t remember a time when we had such a high caliber of athletes and horses for the Olympic test event, so it’s going to be really special.
“Equestrian brings together sporting prowess and horsemanship and we are excited that a whole new global audience will have the chance to witness the unique collaboration between horse and human which creates a cocktail of drama and pure magic.”
The test event, which will trial logistics, results, timing and data handling, footing, transport between the two venues, along with multiple other key factors that are crucial for the smooth running of next year’s Games, is a CCI 3* Eventing competition that provides the opportunity to test both equestrian venues – Equestrian Park at Baji Koen and the new Sea Forest cross country venue.
Baji Koen, site of the Olympic equestrian events at the 1964 Tokyo Games, has undergone extensive refurbishment, funded independently by the Japan Racing Association, and will provide an extraordinary legacy for Tokyo inhabitants, along with the park that will be created out of the reclaimed land at Sea Forest, which hosts equestrian cross country, rowing, and canoe sprint.
The full list of starters for the Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event are available here.
The test event also provides the opportunity for NOCs and NFs to take part in the official Observers Programme, which includes a session on climate mitigation protocols aimed at minimising the effects of heat and humidity. The FEI is also conducting a study on participants at the test event (human and equine) with the goal of further boosting current research on optimising performance in a challenging climate. Full details of the Observers Programme are available here.
Videos explaining the Tokyo 2020 Olympic formats for Jumping and Dressage, which were trialled at the Future Champions event in Hagen (GER) last month, are available on FEI YouTube here. The Eventing format, which has been run at events in Poland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Italy, will be used at the last leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ in Boekelo (NED) in October, when the final team slot on the Tokyo 2020 startlist will be allocated.
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