An unscripted glimpse at the Canadian Equestrian Team's athletes, supporters & fans before, during and after major games. #CanadaStrong

Archive for August, 2012

Interim Update….more to come

So much for my pledge to blog every day while I was here. I did have the best of intentions, but life always has a way of interfering with those.

Tina and I are sitting in a very quaint “old world” style cafe while we are waiting for the dryers to dry our clothes next door at the laundromat. For those who watch the British tv soap “Eastenders”, I was expecting Pauline to be there. The cafe, “Buenos Aires Cafe” has pictures of Maradona on the wall, and all old antique furniture for the chairs, tables, shelves. And they have the most unbelievable food. I just scarfed down a beef empanada with Victorian Lemonade….then because we are waiting for the dryers, I couldn’t resist a slice of carrot cake with the most delicious cream cheese icing I’ve ever tasted. It’s all I can do right now from ordering a homemade ham & cheese toasty made on freshly baked bread.

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Our Jumpers left the other day, and those flying back to North America (Star Power, Carlotta Singular de Magnifica, George) all arrived safely and are finishing up quarantine. Derly Chin de Muze and Victor made their way by ground to their homebase in Belgium. The Dressage horses pulled out yesterday morning, and I just rec’d word that they arrived in Amsterdam in good shape and are boarding their flight to JFK.

Aside from Tina and myself, the only Canadian team members left are Ian Millar, Ashley Holzer, David Marcus and Jacqueline Brooks. I’m very excited that all of them are staying on so that they can take part in the Closing Ceremonies – woohoo! And from what I hear, the ceremonies promise to be just as much fun as the Opening. With all of the bands that are touted to be playing, it sounds like it is tailored made for me. I absolutely can’t wait.

In addition to doing some laundry today (can’t wait for clean socks!!!), Tina and I also packed up our supplies box to go back with COC Cargo, in addition to the COC boxes of all the team phones which were picked up today at the hotel. This afternoon, we’re hoping we can finally sneak in a bit of sightseeing by riding the Emirates cable car to the Excell Centre and then walking over to see the Thames Barrier. Tina is as bad as me with heights, so I’m finding it very amusing that I’m having to convince her that she has to ride the cable car with me and not pass up on the experience. Then it will onto the next job of convincing her to ride the London Eye!!

Our laundry should be done now, so off to the glamourous job of folding, then carting off our clean clothes back to the hotel.

Will blog some more later today including pics of the incredible Dressage Freestyle day, and updates on Ian’s best ever Olympic top-ten finish plus much more that I haven’t had a chance to share with you over the past several days.

A few random pictures

Tina and I arrived early today at the venue, but then quickly parted ways.
Tina to go to the box office to see if she could pick up the Friends & Family tickets for this afternoon’s showjumping, and me to the Venue Accreditation Office to make sure that our 3 Venue Passes were in the system. With all of yesterday’s activities, I forgot to hand in the forms for the Venue Passes for 3 of our support team members. Every day I need to hand in 3 forms by 3pm. And I’ve been great at doing that every day….except yesterday. It was about 7:30pm when I realized my major slip-up while Tina and I were getting changed into clean clothes for dinner. Tina now knows that I can swear like a truck driver. After many calls and texts, the COC and the venue organizers were able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and today when I arrived at the venue, the volunteers were able to confirm all 3 passes. Phew!!

Tina was not so lucky at the box office, which is still closed, and so she’s on her way with some last clothing exchanges to COC’s Outfitting station before heading back to the venue to try the box office again.

In the meantime, I’ve come to our “office” at Devonport House (Grooms’ Hotel) to catch up on emails and post a few pictures for everyone.

The sun is shining, there’s a lovely breeze, here’s to Canada kicking some butt and getting redemption today!!

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Ian Millar & Star Power warming up for the main arena familiarization session.

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Tiffany Foster & Victor soaring high in the warm up

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Eric Lamaze and Derly Chin de Muze look in super form!

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Yann Candele’s Carlotta Singular de Magnifica and groom Anne-Sophie Canut

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Amazing attention to detail on all of the jumps, even a simple standard

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Yann Candele

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Ian and Jonathan Millar watching the action

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Jill Henselwood discussing her first round of competition with Team Canada. George is looking super at these Games!!

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EC Prez Mike Gallagher rubbing shoulders with royalty at the Queens House

Our Tough Canadian Athletes

It’s late at night, and Tina and I have finally made it back to our hotel room with a whole range of emotions. It’s been both a heartwrenching and exciting day for the Canadian Team here at Greenwich Park.

Exciting because Jill Henselwood, Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar looked brilliant in the first day of the team medal competition which has qualified Canada for tomorrow’s final.

And heartwrenching because of the events which unfolded throughout the day which led to Tifffany Foster’s disqualification with Victor.

The official press release is out on the COC and Equine Canada websites, so I will leave you to Google that and read the full release.

I have much to say about it, but will leave that for a more appropriate time.

For now, I hope that everyone will throw their support behind Jill, Eric and Ian as they ride their hearts out tomorrow. Canada’s has done it before when the odds were not in our favour, and I have no doubt they can do it again.

And I know I’m not alone when I say that our Canadian Equestrian Team (Eventing, Dressage & Jumping) has shown the absolute epitome of class, grace, and downright true grit in the face of adversity and heartbreaking disappointment.

They say the Olympics are full of tremendous highs, and gutwrenching lows. I also believe that it shows the true character of people, and just what they are made of.

Today, Tiffany Foster was one of the strongest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional rollercoaster that was her day today….and yet through it all she held her head high, and faced it head on. And even though her Olympic journey ended abruptly and before it’s time today, Tiffany showed she is a fierce athlete and worthy of the title “Olympian”. She gained the respect and the hearts of her fellow athletes as well as all those around her. And I know there is an entire nation back home who will always consider her to be a true hero in sport.

As always, I am humbled by the sheer determination, talent, style and class of our athletes.

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This picture says it all….and sums up exactly how we were all feeling.

Jumper Jog

I haven’t yet blogged anything about the Jumpers, so I’ll fix that right now.

The Jumpers arrived on August 1st, the morning after the Eventing horses moved out (the Jumper horses took the Eventing stalls) and the same morning that our Eventing athletes & support team shipped out to the airport. So it was a very hectic day for Tina and I.

Tina and I had a perfect plan laid out, where Tina would stay at the hotel to greet the Jumper athletes and support team, and I would go to the venue to greet the Jumper horses, groom and vet. But sadly…..our plan didn’t quite work as Tina had to take one of the Dressage Owners to the Olympic Village in order to sort out their accreditation.

The Dressage grooms very kindly bedded down the Jumper stalls so that the horses could walk right in and get settled – thanks Dressage!

Unfortunately the horse lorry for the Jumpers broke down en route to picking them up at their training camp, which resulted in a 2-hour delay. But once that was sorted, all horses arrived safely.

Everyone else arrived at the hotel pretty much on time, and first order of business was to get them checked into their rooms, get their outfitting kit to them, and take them to the venue where some of the support staff still needed to get their Accreditation validated.

The Accreditation process here in London is incredibly tight, and if there is one signature missing, or one piece of information that is not accurate, you can be cooling your heels for several hours. That’s what happened with one of the owner accreds where first there was a missing form (thankfully COC was able to come up with a solution and pull a few favours)…and just when that was sorted, it was discovered that the birth year was off by 1 year. That meant another long wait until LOCOG redid the security check. Luckily I’ve come to know the Accreditation Manager, so he was able to pull in a favour for me and have the owner fast-tracked on the Athlete system, which means the security check only took 1 hour instead of a possible 4. So after 3 1/2 hours, the owner finally had their Accreditation and was able to enter the venue. Phew!! Luckily the owner in question was a very good sport about it. And the very next day I dropped off some delicious “Jubilee” cupcakes to keep the Accreditation folks sweet on us.

The Jumpers had their first familiarization in the big arena on Friday evening, and everyone looked great. Canada was the first country in, which both Torchy Millar (Chef d’Equipe) and Mark Laskin (Assistant Chef d’Equipe) were quite pleased with as it gave a chance for Canada to be done early and then sit and watch the other competitors.

All the horses looked very comfortable in the ring, and the riders seemed to be in very good spirits…..so fingers crossed for the first day of competition!!

I”m still having issues with internet connection, so will add photos to this later today.

Upcoming posts on Ashley Holzer’s super performance in the Grand Prix (she is now moving on to the Grand Prix Special…woohoo!!), an update on Eventing, and of course the performance of our Jumpers in Day 1 of their competition.

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Tiffany Foster & Victor

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Victor looking sharp

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Jill & George

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Ian Millar & Star Power

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Eric Lamaze & Derly Chin de Muze

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Tiffany & Eric observing the jog

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Yann Candele & Carlotta Singular de Magnifica

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Really loving the outfits worn by the Belgiums. Check out the red lining and shoes??

Dressage Day!

My postings are all over the place these days, which is a testament to how busy the days are and how quickly the time flies by. Tina and I have lost all concept of time, and the world that exists outside of our Greenwich bubble. Instead of Thursday, it is Dressage Grand Prix day. And wow…talk about crowds! I’ll post some pics later when I get a chance, but I couldn’t believe how packed the stands are. I’ve read some stories on the BBC website about some of the venues having empty seats, but that sure isn’t true for Greenwich Park.

Our Jumpers had a media conference today at the venue, which by all accounts went well. Tina proved her prowess in the Assistant Team Leader position by managing to get to COC Outfitting first thing when they opened at 8am, and getting a jacket & shirt for Reserve Jumper athlete Yann Candele whose team kit unfortunately is waaaaay too big for him. Tina was able to hustle back to the venue just in time to hand over the exchanges for Yann. Way to go Tina!

EC President (and former Team Leader) Mike Gallagher arrived yesterday, so I took him to the Accreditation office at the venue today to pick up his LOCOG dog tags, and take him on a bit of a tour of the venue. Managed to get him into the stables too! I think I just might be starting to get the hang of this Team Leader gig :-). It was nice for Mike to be able to say Hi to the athletes and support staff, and to also see first-hand the incredible job the organizers have done with the facilities at Greenwich Park.

I then took Mike to the Queen’s House, where his accreditation gives him access to the Olympic Family Lounge which I hear is very swish-swish and has excellent catering. This is where our Owners can go as well, and can walk out onto the balcony for one of the best views in the house. Sadly, my accred does not give me access….so I had to sadly wave goodbye. Instead, I made my way for the first time to the International Teams Tent which is hosted by the British Equestrian Federation. I say “tent”, but really it is in side the Royal Maritime Museum and quite impressive! They have really done an excellent job with ample seating, catering and large flatscreen tvs around the room showing live coverage. I hope the athletes get a chance to check it out and enjoy it.

I’m writing this as the first block of 7 riders are underway in the main arena. Jacqueline Brooks and D’Niro were the first ones to kick things off for Canada. They looked right at home in the main arena, and Jacquie looked ecstatic after her ride. They finished on a score of 68.70%.

At one point I saw the USEF’s Team Leader Jim Wolf walk in with a very large foam “Dressage is #1” finger (a tip of the hat to the now famous “Colbert Report” episode that aired the other month. Apparently one of the US fans was wearing this in the stands however the pointing finger was so big that those seated behind the fan couldn’t see! Too funny…..I think the USEF could be onto a real fundraiser idea as I’m sure the many thousands of fans here at Greenwich Park would love to have their picture taken wearing this.

Next on deck was David Marcus and Capital. Unfortunately the weather chose not to cooperate and as the pair entered the arena the heavens opened up. The ITT tent where I was sitting has a glass roof, and the noise was deafening because the rain was coming down that hard. In fact, it was hard to make out David & Capital on the TV screens! The pair looked as elegant as always, and were putting in quite a solid test until Capital became scared along the short wall. I’m not entirely sure what spooked him….but I suspect it might have been all of the water pouring off the tarps that protect the tv cameras which are situated relatively close to the ring at the corners.

David remained unbelievably posied and in control as he attempted to reassure Capital – but unfortunately they were forced to leave the ring. HUGE kudos go to David for remaining so poised and gracious in the mixed zone. The sign of a true Olympic athlete. Later that day, Tina and I bought flowers for both David and Capital’s owner, Deborah Kinzinger, to leave in their hotel rooms. In speaking with David today, he spoke of how much the outpouring of affection has touched his heart….so those who have been leaving messages for that athletes on their Facebook walls, Twitter, email – it really does mean a lot to them!!

After David’s ride, Mike Tina and I went to visit Hawley Bennett-Awad and her husband Gamal Awad. Hawley is feeling better, and actually walking now (albeit it slowly). In keeping with her true tough & fierce spirit, Hawley is actually doing an interview today with CBC to update everyone on her condition and reassure her fans that both she and Ginny are well. And imagine our surprise with Hawley, along with her husband Gamal, came down to meet us!! She is one tough cookie…and already looking to the future and planning competitions for later this year.

Speaking of which, Eventing Team Manager Fleur Tipton sent me an email to let me know all of the Canadian Eventing horses made it back to Newark, New Jersey in fine form and are now finishing out their quarantine before heading back to home sweet home. I can’t say enough what an honour and privilege it was to work with our Eventing Team who are just amazingly professional, organized, friendly and focused on their jobs. They really are an inspiration and make me incredibly proud to be Canadian.

I’ll be posting another blog tonight….Ashley Holzer & Breaking Dawn had a super ride today!!!

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