Friday, July 20, 2012
With just eight days to go Mary King is all set for her sixth Olympic games and is as hungry as ever to add a gold medal to her silver and bronze, writes Lee Glanville.
The Team GB eventers now have their Olympic accreditation, having visited Greenwich and the athletes’ village on Monday. But King, 51, won’t be lighting the flame at the opening ceremony despite calls for her to do so, as the oldest female athlete in Team GB.
She said: “ As we are competing within two days of the opening ceremony, Team GB managers have banned us from it, so, no, I won’t be involved. There is a lot of hanging about and athletes don’t get ‘home’ til about 2am which is not ideal if you are to compete at your best. I am very lucky in that I have been able to attend other Olympic opening ceremonies.
“The athletes’ village is really impressive. There is a massive gym, relaxation areas with TVs, gaming consoles and a massive bar which sells no alcohol, but things like power drinks. We found our rooms which was exciting.”
All King’s riding gear and clothes for the Olympics will be packed into a Team GB trunk and all the horse’s feed will be loaded onto a pallet and taken to Greenwich on Monday, where it will be subject to security checks.
King said: “All Archie’s feed will be cling wrapped onto the pallet and taken up in advance. We leave very early on Tuesday morning and drive to Kent where all five team members meet up. The horses will be transported into London on the same horse lorry.”
Imperial Cavalier has two more sessions of ‘galloping’ fitness work, one on Friday and one on Monday. All the team horses were checked over by team vets at the three day training session which was held in Abingdon earlier this week and given a clean bill of health.
The horses and riders underwent dressage and showjumping training sessions and, on Wednesday, an ‘in-house’ competition was staged, using the Olympic dressage test. Children from local pony clubs and other guests made up a large ‘crowd’ and the area was adorned with flags and flowers. King said: “All the team horses are looking good. “
But if you thought that King would be taking it easy in the run up to the Olympics, think again. After travelling back from Abingdon, Bucks on Wednesday night, she was back on the road on Thursday morning, taking daughter Emily up to Dauntsey Park in Wiltshire to compete on her five-year-old horse Charlemagne in his first novice competition, Emily having also been sixth at the same venue the previous day on Mr Indigo, another five-year-old horse, in a BE100 class.
On Sunday, Emily is competing at Aston Le Walls in Northamptonshire on Mr Hi Ho when she tackles her, and the horse’s, first advanced track. Mary will take Imperial Cavalier there and work him so that he is amongst a busy crowd situation as extra prep for Greenwich.
The Olympic eventing takes place on July 28-31st at Greenwich Park.