Now the dressage riders have also finished with their competitions – with Valegro at the height of his career at his career’s end. The compact movement wonder will not be competed at any other championship, that is clear. It also might have been his last competition with British Charlotte Dujardin. The 14-year-old KWPN gelding made history with the second consecutive gold medal; which only happened twice before to Anky van Grunsven and Salinero and Nicole Upphoff and Rembrandt. It’s a pity that we won’t see “Blueberry”, that’s Valegro is called at home any more.
For four years Valegro was part of the very few exceptional horses in the first ranks. On many occasions, like for example yesterday, his performances were flawless and he was untouchable.Charlotte Dujardin’s fiancé Dean Golding also knows this. He already asked his long-standing girlfriend to marry him at the Olympic Games in London. She said “yes”, but kept him waiting. Now Dean thought he would have to do his proposal in front of a bigger audience so that she couldn’t stay away from the altar since the entire world knows. And yes, Charlotte said in front of the gathered press that it was time to get married.
It also was time for us to see something other than only horses. On our free day before the dressage Freestyle we were able to do some sightseeing. We went to the Cristo Redentor. When we tried to get to the statue with five people (and therefore two taxis), we had to learn that there are two different ways to the saints. While my colleague S. and I were brought to a bus station up the street, the colleagues from Czechia, Austria and Switzerland were brought to the bus station further down. So we had to go separate ways for the rest of the day since communication is quite difficult here, nobody wanted to get a horrendous phone bill. Then we had to queue and wait. But we were in best company. Kristina Bröring-Sprehe’s whole entourage – husband, parents, parents-in-law also wanted to see the impressive Cristo. Father Paul Sprehe used the time before the boarding (yes, everybody had a boarding ticket with an exact time when you’re allowed to queue for the bus) to buy a new hat. “Doesn’t it look great?,” the proud father said. Yes. O.k. you might not be able to win a fashion prize with it, but it clearly protects you from the sun.
During the last few days it became really hot here. The monitors on the press box are molten by now. In the morning the sun burns on the work stations, but from midday on it seems we have the best places – under the roof and in the Mixed Zone. Ludger Beerbaum also noticed that when he came to the shadowy journalist corner after the first qualification. He was soaking wet from sweating. “On our stand we get grilled. You really are lucky.” That’s right. Most often it’s the other way round.
But back to our excursion. When we arrived on top of the Cristo there were masses of people. In order to get to the best spot to take photographs of the Sugar Loaf Mountain we had to wait until everyone had taken a selfie on which the hair and the face looked good. When we walked to the viewpoint I asked myself what people were doing lying on the ground? My colleague, a photographer explained: “Because of him up there.” Then I got it: the overdimensional Cristo is not that easy to photograph, he’s 30 metres tall and rises up very steeply. If you’re lying on the ground taking a photograph gets much easier. People who were brave enough not to fear the possibility of being trampled by all the people were able to take a photograph of the entire Christo.
After about four hours of going up and down and standing in queues – but the view was so great it compensated for all the trouble- we then went to the Copacobana. Wow! If that city is living then it’s living here. Here you feel everything you expect to feel in Brazil: Joie de vivre, só Alegria! At four in the afternoon everybody is dancing at the beach bars, all shake their bums and sing to the Samba songs at the top of their voices. And people who are not dancing or drinking Caipirinhas are playing beach volleyball. There is one volleyball court next to another – in several rows.
At the end of our free day we were treated to a meal at a chic Italian restaurant by our FN superiors. This has almost become a tradition at every championship and it’s a nice get together in relaxed atmosphere. This year we were able to enjoy the great food and the fine dining. However, it almost felt weird. Here the chic Italian restaurant in a part of Rio we hadn’t seen before, next to gigantic penthouse flats, and only a few metres further poverty. It’s a city of stark contrasts.
Let’s see if we’ll be able to get even more impressions on our next free day, Thursday. Now we have to cross our fingers for the first team show jumping competition.