2008 Olympic Games

Home safe & sound!

Kristin and Snip arrived back home safe and sound on Saturday 16th. Joe stayed in China and headed up to Beijing for a few days to check out the main venue for the Games. He arrived back on Sunday 17th just in time to get ready to leave for Martinvast, France on Tuesday 19th… No rest for the wicked!

13/8/08 – A dramatic conclusion to the Games!

Well it was a bit of a dramatic close to Joe’s first Olympics, but not quite in the way we had hoped. Snip warmed up well, but just seem to tire a little in the heat before he went into the ring. Joe gave Snip a very sympathetic ride, but it was not to be their day as Snip trailed a hoof or two and ended up with 20 jumping faults and some time penalties. Despite these penalties, Joe and Snip did qualify for the final “individual” top 25 jump off.

It was a difficult decision for Joe to decide whether or not to compete in the second round, because of course Snip’s welfare was the paramount consideration. After walking the new shorter course, consulting with the team NZ vet and taking advice from both team manager and trainer, Joe decided to tackle the final course. Snip had freshened up remarkably during the hour or so break and as it was now 11pm the temperature had dropped a few degrees too. Snip came into the arena looking a different horse. He just tipped two rails but put in a much improved performance.

We are very proud of Joe and Snip for their performance, leading the way their NZL team-mates in both the dressage and x-country phases. Whilst the show-jumping did not go entirely to plan, they showed courage and determination to complete both the team and individual courses, finishing in 5th place as a team and individually 24th place over-all. It has been a terrific Olympic experience and one that only leaves us hungry for those medals in London 2012. As I write, I am sitting in Hong Kong airport about to board a flight home to London. Thanks to all for your support and encouragement throughout the build-up and during the course of the games.

12/8/08 – The Trot up

It felt very strange to have slept-in to 6am today on trot-up day, after 3 or 4am starts for the last 3 days. Usually trot-up day will be the earliest start of all. But today, in consideration for the HK weather conditions and the fact that the horses had to be transported back from the Beas River x-country venue to Sha Tin, means that the trot-up was been scheduled for 4pm with the show-jumping starting at 7.15.

The ground jury (judges) together with the chief vet will check over each of the horses to ensure they are fit to jump today after the exertions yesterday. This is a very important part of the competition and one where medals have been won + lost! It was a good start to the final day as all 4 kiwi horses passed the trot up. Sadly for sweden 2 of their horses did not present which caused them to drop behind NZ in the team standings. A couple of high profile horses were held and then passed, but only 1 in the top 20 did not present.

11/08/08 – X-Country

Fantastic news! Joe’s initial 20 penalties for a run out in the first water has been revoked after the NZ Team protested – Joe had pulled Snip away from the fence for safety reasons – it was not a refusal… Joe therefore finished with a clear round with 21.20 time penalties after finishing outside of the optimum time for the course of 8 minutes. This means Joe has a real chance of a top placing in his first Olympics! Joe is currently 19th! Bring on the Showjumping… Go New Zealand!

10/08/08 – A super dressage test & X-Country Day

It’s 4.30 am and we’re just getting ready to take the shuttle up to the x-c venue at Beas River. The horses went up last night. Joe is scheduled to run at 10.20am (2.20pm NZ / 3.20am UK). The course is considered to be very challenging and the weather is likely to be hot today, so it really is a case of anything could happen! Fingers crossed!

Yesterdays dressage was a personal best for Joe & Snip – 43.9 and into 11th place! Best of the Kiwi’s so far!

8/8/08 – BBC Coverage & Trot up

All NZ team pass the trot up. The team order will be Todd, Tompkins, Nicholson, Meyer and Powell. Joe will do dressage Sun morning at 6.30am (HK time). Two horses spun – 1 Chilean and 1 Brazilian. One of the Brits held but then passed…

7/8/08 – Deb’s news flash

It’s hard to believe that the time has come and I have finally arrived here at the Olympics! Flight was fine and plane landed on time. I met up with a couple of other NZ WAGS at the airport and we were zoomed through the accreditation process at the airport and a car was waiting to take us to the “friends and family” hotel (i.e. For non-athletes or team officials who stay in the Olympic Village hotel). All the team were here at the hotel awaiting the start of a video link with the rest of the NZ Team in Beijing and other satellite sites such as sailing.

We were joined here in HK by the showjumpers and some of the NZ athletics squad who were passing through. Unfortunately, just as things were to kick off, the video link went down and they had all sorts of trouble getting it back up again. Many of the riders decided they couldn’t wait as they were due to have some time in the “main arena” at 8pm. So at 7pm, we headed off to the stables. We never did find out who was named as the NZ team flag bearer for the opening ceremony!

Down at the stables they are still trying to dry everything out from yesterday’s down pour. The good news is that they were allowed to ride yesterday evening after the typhoon warning was lifted, but the bad news was that the heavens opened as the team went out! Tonight Joe rode snip in the main arena by way of warm up, then went out to one of the other schooling areas to pop him over a few fences. He looks in great shape.

By 9.30 we were on our way back to the hotel and decided to take the easy option of joining some friends for dinner at the Italian restaurant in the hotel. The food is adequate and filled the gap. Joe’s been eating mostly local style food since arriving, but I did not want to give Junior too much of a shock on the first day, so plumped for spinach canneloni to pump up my popeye strength!

Its now about 3am and I’ve got a bit of jet lag insomnia so hiding in the bathroom typing this as Joe sleeps! He has to be up at 5.30 to go off to Beas River for a team x-country walk. They have already been around once and the view so far is that it’s looking pretty tough with a high number of big efforts in a shortened distance. For example Badminton would be about 12mins but here the distance has been shortened to an optimum of 8mins. There will be a few less jumping efforts than Badminton but not many – so its going to be very demanding. I am hoping to go out for a look tomorrow morning but I won’t go with the team at 5.30!

Joe’s parents have arrived in HK but I have not caught up with them yet. They are staying with some other friends at a hotel in Kowloon. Trot-up starts tomorrow at 4pm and NZ has drawn second country to go behind Belarus. I think Belarus has only 1 or two riders, so they will no doubt choose to put that rider in a 4th or 5th team member slot, which effectively means our first team rider will be first to go of the whole competition. The order of start within the team will be decided after the trot up tomorrow.

06/08/08: Olympic countdown – Opening ceremony minus 2

Well everyone, this is the last broadcast from London as I fly out to HK tonight. Last night there was an official team NZ reception for the Equestrian team in HK and the riders were presented with a greenstone memento of the games by the NZ Chef de Mission for the olympics. Afterwards the team were treated to a ride up the Peak (the highest point on HK island) for a BBQ. Unfortunately the rain had already started so they were not able to enjoy the view!

This morning there has been a typhoon warning – signal 8 in HK, which means everything is closed down until the threat passes. So the team have had the morning off, but hopefully they will be allowed to ride tonight. The olympic schedule has some leeway – a couple of days or so – in case any days of competition have to be delayed due to typhoons. This will be an extra challenge for the riders to cope with as they could be just about ready to start and then be “stood down” for a period and then the competition might restart again with very little warning. In this case you will need to check the bbc or tvnz websites for revised coverage schedules.

That’s all from London. Remember to keep checking this website for our next update live from the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Hong Kong!

04/08/08: Olympic Countdown – 4 more sleeps until opening ceremony

After 4 days in Hong Kong the team are settling in well. The final NZ team member arrived today after competing at the British Open at Gatcombe over the weekend – his team-mates were very pleased to see him in one piece! The weather has been mostly dry so far, and not as hot as it could be. The forecast seems to be for continued moderate temperatures in the region of 30c and some showers. Nevertheless, Joe has been continuing his sauna training sessions in preparation for competition conditions, but has been enjoying a cool-off in the Olympic village pool as well. Snip seems to have recovered from any jet lag and enjoyed his first gallop on the Sha Tin racecourse turf today! Competition Hong Kong Time NZL time

31/07/08: Olympic Countdown – Joe & Snip Arrive in Hong Kong

With 8 days to go until the opening ceremony and first horse inspection, we’ve just received the news that horse, rider and groom have all now landed safely in Hong Kong.

22/07/08: Olympic Countdown – Quarantine Begins

Joe & Kristin have today headed off for Manton, near Marlborough, where the New Zealand eventing team will have base camp for the duration of the quarantine period. Kristin will stay down there to keep a close eye on Snip and Ease on Fire, whilst Joe will commute back & forth. On Thursday this week Joe will be competing at the Hickstead Eventer’s Grand Prix – a composite event that involves showjumps and x-country style fences in and around the famous Hickstead Derby arena. Joe will ride Lucy Allison’s Black Andy and says he has a good strategy up his sleeve after having a first attempt at the competition last year!

16/07/08: Olympic Countdown – 3 weeks to Opening Ceremony

With the eventing trot-up due to take place in Hong Kong on the day of the Opening Ceremony in Beijing: 08-08-08, it is starting to feel as thought the start of the competition is not too far away. The New Zealand team will go into quarantine on Tuesday 22nd, with horses and riders flying out to Hong Kong on Wednesday 30th. Both Snip and Ease on Fire will go into quarantine. Joe and Snip had a final preparation run at Barbury Castle CIC3* 10 days ago and we are delighted to report that Snip put in a solid performance, finishing fit and well.

16/06/08: Joe & Snip named on Olympic team

Joe has been confirmed as one of the final 5 team members of the NZ three day event team for the 2008 Olympics.
Seasoned campaigners Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson will make history when they line up in the New Zealand eventing team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. They will be joined by Joe Meyer, Caroline Powell and Heelan Tompkins in Hong Kong where the Olympic equestrian events will be held.

After eight years in retirement, Todd has completed a successful return to the elite level with inclusion this year where he joins the consistent Nicholson as New Zealand’s most capped Olympian. The pair will be attending their sixth Olympic Games, surpassing canoeist Ian Fergusson’s attendance at five Games. New Zealand Olympic selector and Secretary General, Barry Maister, said the eventing announcement was particularly special. “Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson are among our finest Olympians and to have athletes attending their sixth Games is testament to the depth of talent we have in New Zealand sport. I think it is a fantastic team and we have high hopes for them.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest riders of all time, Todd, a gold medalist at Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul 1988, was delighted to get the seal of approval after a late bid for inclusion. ”I’m delighted that we’ve got the nod to go,” he said. “It’s what we set out to do at the beginning and we’re looking forward to being part of the team. New Zealand has a good, solid team – they’re all pretty strong, fit and sound – so we’ve got a good chance of going really well out there.”

The UK-based Nicholson, known as Mr Consistency on the European eventing circuit, is continuing an Olympic association that started at Los Angeles in 1994. He has been a consistent top 10 performer over a number of years and holds the record for the most number of Badminton completions, which is regarded as the world’s most prestigious four star event. “It’s a pretty good team,” he said. “It’s better than what it could have been a couple of years ago and it’s getting stronger all the time. We have a good chance of winning a team medal.”

Meyer, who has been based in the UK for several years, will be making his Olympic debut in Hong Kong. “It’s what I’ve been aiming for, for years; I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics,’’ he said. “Competing at Badminton, Burghley, the world champs and the Olympics – that’s what it’s all been about. “I’m very excited and I want it to go very well. It’s good to be selected but now I want to win a prize.”

Powell, formerly from Canterbury and now based in Scotland, will also make her debut in Hong Kong. A big improver in recent years, Powell reached a career highlight and the best European performance by a New Zealand this season when finishing fourth in top company at Badminton. “It’s great and I was kind of hopeful,” she said. “I think we’ve got a good depth of team and that we have as much chance as anyone. As long as things come together we’re in with a good chance.

Taranaki’s Tompkins completed her selection build-up in the UK. Tompkins made her Olympic debut in Athens four years ago where she was the best-placed of the New Zealand team in seventh, the same place she achieved at the World Equestrian Games in 2006. “We’ve got a really strong team,’’ she said. “This is the most excited I have been of any of the teams I have been in so far. The riders are individually strong and hopefully together it will produce a medal result.”