Rio 2016

Só Alegria: About Guardian Angels, Leggings, Sunscreen and Packing Lists

Did you know that “Só Alegria” is the motto of the carnival in Rio? Translated it means “only joy” – and it is also my motto for the next feew weeks, when I will blog about my personal experiences and impressions in and around Rio.
Apparently the German eventing riders also took “Só Alegria” as their motto. Currently they are based – as they did before the last few championships – at the Rodderberg in Bonn, where they have ideal training conditions and where the team grows to be a real team. There was no tension among the riders and the trainers yet. Instead everybody was in a good mood and in holiday mood.”Here one can take a deep breath and sleep through the night,” Ingrid Klimke said, who will make her journey together with Horseware Hale Bob. “After Aachen time was short. I was at pony camp with the kids for three days but now it’s good that we’re here.” Olympic rookie Andreas Ostholt agreed: “With a horse here it doesn’t feel like work.”
Michael Jung, Chris Bartle, Andreas Ostholt, Sandra Auffarth, Ingrid Klimke, Julia Krajewski, Hans Melzer

Michael Jung, Chris Bartle, Andreas Ostholt, Sandra Auffarth, Ingrid Klimke, Julia Krajewski, Hans Melzer

Just before the training camp there was some excitement when it became clear that Michael Jung’s Takinou couldn’t travel to Rio and that reserve horse Sam had to step in. Hans Melzer said: “At first the reason for Takinou’s fever wasn’t clear, until we knew that it came from a tick bite. Then there were rumours that Michi couldn’t compete at all, but he was nominated with three horses and also entered in the system. However, to change horses at Olympic Games is not as easy as it is at other events. One needs a veterinary certificate, the FEI has to approve, the IOC has to approve and then Rio also has to approve.”
Michael Jung & Sam

Michael Jung & Sam

That Sam “wasn’t really Plan B” (Hans Melzer) was what the rider himself also said: “We are an experienced team, we know each other inside out. We’re taking it positive and are brave. In the end young horses have to follow him, but Sam is healthy and gives me a good feeling.” Jung further said that it was always important to have a feeling for the right balance, for how much one could do with one horse. “Aachen was really just before the championship, but in the end the conditions there are always great. And we can’t always wrap our horses in cotton.”
Julia Krajewski, who is reserve rider and will experience her first championship, also know that. She also has a “Sam” with her, Samourai du Thot and she has prepared as if she had to compete. “I can’t just stop,” so the 27-year-old said. “And you can’t just sit in front of the box the whole day and ask it to stay healthy.” The certified trainer showed herself to be fair – she is looking forward to her responsibility as reserve rider “I’m already very happy with the reserve position. I hope that I can support the others a bit and I hope I won’t have to compete.”
Andreas Ostholt und das etwas außergewöhnliche Outfit für den Kopf

Andreas Ostholt und das etwas außergewöhnliche Outfit für den Kopf

The biggest issue among the team right now is what they should take to Rio. Weeks ago, so Krajewski, they had to write packing lists, which now had to match and National coach Hans Melzer also struggled with the the fact that there was still so much to pack. “We were given a huge amount of equipment from Adidas in Hannover and we’re always asking ourselves ‘When will we wear what and what could probably be left here’?” There is at least one piece of clothing from the Adidas collection that at least most of the male riders will leave at home: the leggings for the opening ceremony, which the modern, fashion-conscious man wears under shorts. Since the eventing riders will not take part in the opening ceremony (with exception of Ingrid Klimke who might be allowed to carry the flag – vote still possible!) the skintight thing (unfortunately) will stay at home. A must-have (at least according to Andreas Ostholt) are the neon-orange sunglasses and the matching baseball cap in black or neon-orange. Rio is colourful – so the outfitter thought that the athletes could wear some colour. There is no alternative to these sunglasses. Who wants to ride with sunglasses has to wear the colourful model, that’s how strict the Olympic rules are.
Andreas Ostholt präsentiert sein "Lieblingsoutfit": die Leggings

Andreas Ostholt showing the Leggings-look

The German eventing team also takes personal luggage and lucky charms to Rio. World Champion Sandra Auffarth has several lucky charms -some of them are not even unpacked – Ingrid Klimke remembers the team CD that’s part of the team every year and for which every rider was allowed to choose two songs, Julia Krajewski decided to take her lucky belt and two books, Michael Jung takes a T-shirt with signatures of everyone from his stable, Andreas Ostholt takes a guardian angel, guardian stones, an Aachen horse and lucky underwear (like Chris Bartle) and Hans Melzer takes cigarillos, which he was gifted with and which he’s only allowed to smoke after the awards ceremony.
Sandra Auffarth übt auch schon mal, wie man besonders lässig mit der Cappi aussieht

Sandra Auffarth

However, even though there are awards ceremony cigarillos: nobody is presumptuous when it comes to Rio. Hans Melzer said: “It’s not going to be a picnic. There’s pressure; everybody expects us to win. And the course designer isn’t one to be trifled with, we’re expecting a very challenging course.” However, Melzer knows:” Our team is mentally strong, they know what they can achieve and we want to lead after dressage.”

Nobody fears the long flight, and nobody fears for the horses, even though Michael Jung said: “One is always concerned about the horses. But they are in the best hands and their journey is more comfortable than on a trailer. The attendants always have an eye on them and they have a lot of space.” However: only one attendant is allowed to be with the horses. For the eventing riders Klimke’s groom Carmen Thiemann will fly with the horses, for the show jumpers Kay Neatham, groom of Marcus Ehning’s horses and for the dressage Isabell Werth will care for the horses since she has the most experience with horses and flying.
Team Deutschland ist bereit

Team Germany is ready

The eventing team doesn’t take tools to the Olympic village, they take it on the light shoulder. Hans Melzer said: “In London one or another shower overflowed and a toilet was clogged – but throughout the event everything worked.” And trainer Chris Bartle said: “It’s part of the adventure. Now the party can start.” That’s it the “Só Alegria”!