The equestrian jumping event of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing concluded on Sunday (24 August) for Team GB representative Jake Saywell, thanks to team leader Corinne Bracken for a round-up of the action from the final day of competition.
Well individual final day was a completely different competition. The course was substantially bigger than the last three days, the first fence was three holes bigger. The horses were starting to look tired and without doubt the better horses were starting to shine in this competition. Jake and I were fully aware that we have a big weak seven year old in Leo and he was fast running out of petrol!! When we walked the course we decided that we needed to make it as easy as possible for him without getting any time faults. We were only on 4 faults and although there were 10 in front of us we needed to stay focused. To be honest with the individual final we had set our target as a top 12 finish. Leo lacked experience and ride ability at the beginning of the week and although he was getting better and better this course would be a tall order.
Fence one was a big wide oxer on the short side of the arena. Then the Olympic planks with a short five strides to another square oxer. The combination was next followed by a very short four strides to another square oxer. Then a roll back turn to a water tray behind a verticle a 5/6 distance on a bending line to an oxer and past the entrance to a very gappy vertical.
Leo was a little tired and heavy in the warm up. He jumped the first three fences very well but on the turn to the combination had a little spook. This meant that Jake had to put a little too much leg on and the horse jumped forward and had the first part down, he then over jumped the middle bit and could not get out of the last part without having that down. So two down in the combination but he jumped the rest of the round clear. Jake once again showed his class as a rider, never losing his focus on what he was in there to do. The result of this round was that he finished in joint 10th place, a remarkable result when you think on Day 1 he was on the floor twice!!
The horses now go to Beijing Equestrian Centre to be sold. I think whoever buys Leo will need Jake to help them ride him!! Although we did not win an individual medal this has been an amazing experience for Jake. To be part of the huge success that is Team GB and watch his room mates win medals has been a time he will never forget. I have to say having Jake as my athlete has made my job as team leader very easy. He has always been on time even when we had a 5.30am start, he has looked after his horse even when the horse did not look after him and he has contributed a huge part to Team GB.
Now we have 2 days off where we will try to do some of the cultural programmes and then the closing ceremony.
Then we all fly home on Friday …… if the ash cloud does not arrive!!!