Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wrap up

well, a couple of nights off and we are getting ready to come home. We finished the Games with another typhoon! Bigger than the first one! Level 9, with wind up to 90mph and heavy rain...we were secluded in the hotel for a day and night,,,,,and the poor people who were supposed to go home on Friday, had to wait a full day, depending on where they were headed. Most of them got out today (Sat) and I will be coming home on Monday, after one more day of sightseeing..I booked a few extra days, in case we couldn't do anything during the competition. Turns out we were able to do a lot during the days, since we worked at night. I am off for my final day (Sun) to see the Buddah on Lantau island...appropriate for a Sunday, I would think. The whole area is cleaning up after the storm..trees down, power lines too, and lots of debris everywhere. The poor people who went to the airport on Friday morning, had to stay there after the typhoon hit, because all public transportation shut down....they take these things very seriously, as they should, and do not come out. Luckily, at the stables, the horses are all tucked up inside safe and sound, and things were A-OK for them. Some horses got out on the early am flights, but many did not even go to the airport once the flights were shut down. Even the incoming flights were cancelled...imagine that mess. When I came over we had to wait 4 hrs to take off, since the storm was arriving in HK when we were in the is just like shutting down O'Hare, or Dulles, or Denver, during a winter storm....the whole world is affected!

I will be sending a final blog probably when I get home, so look for it in the next few days.. My Olympic announcing debut was a great success, I am very proud to have done a great job, had a lot of fun, and even made an appearance or two on world wide television. Yeah home team!! I hope I get the chance again, and many of the new friends hope so too. Dear Great Britain...experienced USA Olympic announcer would love to come over and help out.....

See you back Stateside.....Brian

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Me doing one of my course walks on the telescreen, and one of the dragon jump, final round. Not too bad walking the course while all the riders are walking around me too! Great fun...

Canada and Sweden and USA!!!


The show jumping world was introduced to the very first CANADIAN medalist in equestrian competition…Eric Lamaze and Hickstead topped the world in a gold medal jump off, after 5 days of competition, and 5 rounds, plus the jump off , of excellent horsemanship and craftsmanship. He put in superb rounds throughout and deserved the gold. He came into the individual round with "0", went clear in the first and second rounds, and then went clear and fast in the jump off. This wonderful stallion , who has been jumping so superbly all year, especially down in Florida, is truly a superstar. Eric gave him tremendous rounds all week, and in the end only had one rail down, in 6 trips! It is awesome. Molsens all around… may know that CN is a major sponsor of show jumping in North America, well, it now takes on a new mantra.....CANADA NAILS-IT! Please pardon the grammar!

Our own Bezzie Madden and McLain Ward put in super rounds too, to get into a 12 horse jump off for the bronze….(I think I have the correct number)…anyway, the jump off for the bronze was tough and full of speed and power. Meredith and Shutterfly(GER) put in a super fast clear round with a time of 35.37,,she sped around the final turn, to a big oxer, and then galloped into the last vertical wall, and cleared it faster than anyone else. Rodrigo Pessoa(BRA), was going fast and clear , and then one down cost him 4, but he was just outside the time. McLain and Sapphire came in next, and blistered their way around, including jumping a decorative brush/tree area (not on course) which shortened their turn into the next jump. The crowd went wild when this short cut actually gave him almost 2 seconds up on Meredith, but a little too fast into the last wall, and they hit quite hard and took down about three levels of the top and rider were perfectly fine, but 4 faults and just .02 out of the lead. Then Beezie came in, jumped a fantastic round, short cut included, and beat the time in 35.25. Artistry, power, and superb coordination, put Beezie and Authentic onto the bronze medal podium. Team USA finished the 2008 Olympics with a silver individual (Gina Miles) in eventing, a gold team (show jumping) and Beezie with the individual bronze in show jumping. The grand master himself, George Morris, our commander in chief for the jumping team was beaming! His leadership has been monumental, and so helpful to a team of some of the best show jumpers we have ever fielded. No offense to our wonderful 1984 Gold medal team from LA-----it has just been that long since we have had such a wonderful and positive experience watching our superstars. They really earned these medals. So final results: Eric –gold, (Can)…Rolf-Goran Bengtsson silver (SWE), and Beezie Madden,bronze (USA)

HOWEVER….the day was not without controversy…….we got to the competition arena, to find out there was an immediate press conference due to start. Apparently, four horses came up positive in drug testing and were being disqualified. One was from Germany, one from Brazil, one from Ireland, and one from Norway. All came up positive for the substance, Capsaicin, which is a compound made from chili peppers, which when applied to a horse's front legs, causes heat(pain) and also acts as a pain reliever. This substance has been banned all year (red flag from the Federation – i.e. we will be looking for this…) but these individuals were caught with positive results from tests. Here in HK, where there is one of the three TOP medical labs for equestrian drug testing in the world, one would assume that you would not try to break the rules. Now there is the test on the "b”"(second samples) still to be verified……but, one German and one Irish horse, both countries who were penalized and stripped of their medals four years ago, came up positive AGAIN. And the Norwegian horse who came up positive will probably cost Norway their first EVER medal in equestrian sports (bronze jumping). WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???? All of this will be dealt with in the coming weeks, but still, a bit of a black cloud on the jumping discipline, especially after the fiasco of 2004, when 2 medals, team and individual golds, were both stripped of their winners because of banned drugs.

Now , the is the OPINION section: I am going to jump into big water here, but I don’t care…..people can say what they think....just like I am about to do:

What makes a team member or coach or vet or whoever, think they can get away with this? Do you not think that you are under a very big microscope here? And by your actions (GERMANY and IRELAND) you have been busted TWICE now…..should they be allowed to continue doing this without harsher penalties? They are putting a big stain on the rest of the clean, and hardworking athletes, horses, owner, officials, volunteers, and participants…it is not fair to allow this to continue. Yes, there is a price...but after two times… should be much more severe. It really shows how poor "sportsmanship" and "horsemanship" really are presented to the world…especially to our young riders, pony clubbers, and up and coming equestrians…is cheating the only way to get medals? NO…just look at Gina, Beezie, Ashley, McLain, Amy, Anky, Steffan, etc. Don't let theses busted riders spoil the day…they don't deserve it. Now, if their "b" samples come up clean, and they are vindicated, I will write another apologetic response…but till that time,…."what the h… were you thinking?"

OK, almost done….another bum idiot almost ruined the day. Just as we started the jump off, a man jumped over the fence, onto the field and took off his shirt to advertise some stupid .com site…he had a tutu on and "cantered" around the course, while the first rider was waiting for the bell to start. Unfortunately, the security staff did not jump to action, and after almost 30 seconds or so, some of the stewards started to jump the fence and tried to get this moron. I was running down the stairs trying to call the police onto the course, but they were afraid to break some sort of protocol. The crowd laughed a bit…but I only wish us Americans, who didn't get the chance, had gotten to the SOB….we wanted to tackle this guy so bad and pound him into the sand! He also looked like a fat was awful, embarrassing to the Chinese, and bad for the competiton. Luckily the cameras did not show him on the jumbotron…. They finally escorted him off..too bad we couldn't catch up with him and have a further "discussion" (and I am NOT a violent person, as you all know....)

Well, enough for tonight…..2:30 and going strong. We are under a typhoon warning again…scheduled for tomorrow morning…very strong winds and heavy rain is due..we think that all the poor people who are scheduled out tomorrow will be delayed and may not be able to travel…that will be a pity if all of this is true. The warning will be raised soon, if it gets upon us. Funny, we started the Games with a typhoon two weeks ago, and will now end it with one too. When these storms hit, the whole area shuts down, and people just wait it out. More tomorrow from our "hideout"!!

Be good,

Brian – Olympic announcer of the Games of the 29th Olympiad, Beijing 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dressage Final - Tuesday

Dressage Final – Anky wins 3rd consecutive gold!!

Yes, history was made tonight as Anky Van Grunsven of the Netherlands, won her third consecutive individual gold medal in dressage..history was made tonight, as no other equestrian has ever done this (I think I am correct here). Her dressage test in the freestyle competition was exceptional…much more balanced, free of tension, and very difficult. Her music, and her movements, were strong, expressive, and very powerful…just like Salinero always is. They were so much better tonight and they got a super high score of 82.4, which gave them a total 2 round score of 78.68…gold for the Dutch. Germany was silver and bronze, with our own USA Steffan Peters a close fourth behind. Isabell Worth and Satchmo had another blow up in the middle of the test, where he actually backed up in a piaffe spot, and almost spat out the bit. He shook his head and really resisted, just like in the GPS the other night….very strange. However, the judges this time did not really mark her down…only one judge gave a lower mark for submission….strange too…but, Isabell was still not going to beat Anky based on what we saw. Satchmo was indeed brilliant and flowing, but Anky really turned up the heat, and had one of her best rides ever. Even in the victory round, Salinero, was calm (er) than normal and they really shone brightly. The crowd went wild when she finished and when I announced here score of 82.4, the place went mad!! Great ending to a lovely competition…the right person won, with no controversy tonight! Once again, the German national anthem was NOT played for dressage…Netherlands rule the night!

Fun music throughout the night too. The Russian rider used Gone with the Wind, NY, NY, as her music, which seemed very different! Her terrific grey stallion got a bit tense and caused her some trouble , but she still finished with a 72. Emma Hindle from GBR put in a super test, riding to the music of the Bee Gee’s…Sat Night Fever and all..and it was really well received by the crowd. Much cheering throughout the night….

Kyra Kirkland used music from Cabaret, including the opening song, with Joel Grey singing…terrific entrance for the 6 time Olympian. Heike Kemmer from Germany, who was challenging our own Steffan for the bronze put in a hell of a test , riding to a Beach Boys medley. She got a 71.98 and a big send off from the fans..they loved the music. Courtney King Dye on Mythilus for USA put in a strong effort and it was very clean, but the music seemed rather tame, compared to the others. I had seen this piece back during the selection trials, and it was good…and certainly a change from her musical tour of Broadway tunes with here other GP horse, Idocus, but here, her more classical music did not really have the punch compared to the others. I am sure she will find new music for the wonderful horse, as he is going to be around for quite awhile for Team USA.

Steffan and Ravel were stars…I mean homerun out of the park stars. I have seen this horse three times since the March qualifier in San Diego at Dressage Affair, and have seen them, climb up the ladder so quickly and brilliantly, that it is truly amazing. He has only been with this horse for under a year, and has taken him to such a level, that we can only wait until they are on the medal podium for USA…..his test was strong, easy to watch, full of expression, technically great, and flowed throughout. With a score of 76.5, just out of the bronze, we have to be really proud of their accomplishments……it was a joy to watch.

Ashley and Pop Art went early in the draw and finished with a 71.45, a regular score for this partnership again. To the music of Disney’s Epcot Fireworks, they put in a lovely ride, but were not rewarded for their much improved harmony and steadiness. I have always loved this piece and feel they deserved better.

And so ends my Olympic announcing, as Nick will do the final jumping on Thurs. I will have more on my stay here , but tonight I have to end this session. Charles Mann took the fun pic of me with the “Olympic Mic Torch” and asked me to include his photo email link, which you must ALL GO TO…..I promised him. Thanks everyone, and I will see you tomorrow, after our day off (after 13 days)…see you after the beer fest….


LINK: Charles Mann…

Charles has wonderful images and photos…check it out!!!!

Dressage final - Anky does it again

Monday, August 18, 2008



The night was extraordinary – USA and Canada in a jump off for the gold! A North American sweep of the gold , and silver jumping. First time ever!! Norway was bronze, their first ever jumping medal (from what they tell me)…it was a night to remember. After all the bad and unfortunate events for our 3 day squad, and the dressage squad. We truly have something to cheer about. The USA wins back to back Olympic gold (2004 – Athens, and now 2008 Bejiing!). The course was huge and very demanding, and again, the water jump caused the most problems – it was over 4 meters wide, and tonight it was followed by 5 strides to a very short (23 foot ) in/out of maximum vertical rails! That is the combination with the very ornate dragons on the posts that I have included in the pics. A big course, only 5 clear rounds out of 48+….but the medals came down to the very last rider of the night, our own Beezie Madden. After last night, when she had a refusal, we were all sitting on our seats…..if she went clear , we win the gold outright..if she has a dropped rail, we go into a tie with Canada. All the jumps were clear, but one foot in the water (actually on the landing tape of the water) and 4 were added.. Jump off!!! Ian Millar from Canada, jumped clear in the initial round to put Canada into the lead with our final rider to go. He is competing in his 9 Olympics! 8 + the alternate Games in 1980, when we all boycotted Moscow….and he has never, ever won an Olympic medal. Tonight, he was the star to beat…if we had not won the gold, and Canada had,,,there would still be rejoicing in the show jumping world. Bittersweet tho, because Ian’s wife of many years (decades actually) passed away this past winter and could not be here to see him win the silver…but, we think the angel on his shoulder was actually her. A very special and lovely story….Ian Millar finally getting his medal from the Games.

The heavily favored German team had a bad few days here, and finished just outside the medals. Who’d have thunk? The Aussies were in the hunt for a while, but one of their stars, fell in the warm-up arena and broke his collarbone! No kidding…and right in front of me..I was out in the back and this rider, Peter MacMahon was having a terrible time with his horse in the schooling area. I watched him fighting with his horse for over 10 minutes, just not quite in harmony, and then, they jumped right into the middle of the practice oxer, fell down, and both of them came up injured! The horse was on three legs, and Peter knew right away he was hurt too, as he checked his shoulder , and sure enough, there was the clavicle “parted at the seams”. For those riders who have broken your collarbone (including yours truly) you know what I mean. His horse actually had just stung himself, and after a few minutes trotted out fine and sound. Peter was seen to by the medical team, we gave him a bottle of water , and away he walked (on his own) to be x-rayed by the med staff. Too bad, cuz Australia was in the hunt at that time.

In the jump off, all three USA riders jumped clear: Laura, Will (1st Games), and Mclain - Beezie didn’t have to go cuz we had secured the medal at that time. For Canada, Jill had one down, Eric Lamaze was clear, and then Ian did not have to return as we had just gotten the gold. A wonderful night for the sport of show jumping and we had a sold out crowd who stayed till the very end, and with the medal ceremony, as good as ever, we ended the team competition with our US anthem. Because I did not go to Sydney when David won, and because , in Atlanta, I was only a spectator, not part of the backstage portion, I have never experienced the medal ceremony like tonight. The flags for the ceremonies are raised on poles, right next to our announcing and judging tower. I was literally, right under them as the Stars and Stripes were raised. With my hand over my heart (Cub Scout Pack 894, Den 1 take heed here….) I was so proud of our team as the flags went up! It must be ever cooler to have it raised for you as an athlete….nothing like it!

Gina Miles, our silver medalist from eventing, and our dressage team riders were all in the mix too, with their hats, and flags. Steffan, who may have a chance at a bronze individual tomorrow night, was there as a team supporter! I told him…silver(Gina)… (Jumping team)….ONE MORE TO GO (bronze for him)!!! He told me, see you tomorrow night…to which I replied,,,it will give me great pleasure to introduce you tomorrow night on the PA!! Go USA!!!!!!!!

Side note: We did indeed get to see the pandas this AM…they have a terrific habitat and they, of course, were all asleep, except one, who was eating away! Our pandas in DC are just the same…kind of black and white….interesting……fun to see pandas in their native land, eh? Canadian dialect there…did you get that?

More tomorrow after the freestyles - should be a wonderful night…Ashley and Pop Art get to go first…and she uses the Epcot fireworks music from Disneyworld…I asked her if she wanted me to organize some REAL, NON FAKED fireworks for her opening! She laughed and told me to get it done……

See ya, Brian

Day 13 - GOLD!!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 12 Team jumping

Day 12 Show jumping team –round 1

Team USA is tied for the lead after night one….finally our USET is jumping out in front early! Our riders have a team total of 12….three scores count for the results. Mclain Ward got the single clear for us on Sapphire with a tremendously strong performance. This mare was extraordinary with her jumping - really leaping cleanly over the 13 jumps. The course was very big and very beautiful. Lots of wide oxers and as you can see, many different Chinese themes..Steve and Leopardi, the designers , have truly put on one hell of a showcase for these riders. Check out closely, the panels on the vertical… is an artistic design that has a picture of the Great Wall on it…it is truly wonderful.

Laura Kraut with Cedric almost went clear but had one rail down (4 faults)…this horse is lovely and Laura did a very professional job…it is great to see her back on the US team. Will Simpson was next and his horse was very much “in the bridle” and very strong. Two fences down for 8 faults. Then our anchor , and veteran gold medalist, Beezie Madden with Authentic came on board. She was flying over the jumps, I mean way over these 5’ + fences (1.5 meters) and seemed headed for our second clear, when coming into the final triple complex, Authentic started shaking his head very roughly, and they refused, or had a disobedience..very, very unusual for this pair. She turned away, and came back for the second try, got into the combination, had another rail down, and then went on to finish..8 jumping and 3 time faults. Very unusual and so “not” Authentic…they turned out to be the drop score, and the US is now in the lead with 12.

Canada is tied with 16 along with Great Britain. The superstars of England Nick Skelton had 8, Tim Stockdale had 4, Ben Maher had 4, and John Whitaker, unfortunately had to withdraw…bad break for the British team, as it make look like he will not go tomorrow either. The Canadians are in the hunt too: Mac Cone, with Ole had an uncharacteristic 12, then Jill Henselwood had a tough time coming home with 16 plus 2 time, then Eric Lamaze on Hickstead proved why he should be here for Canada, by putting in one of the only 5 clear rounds of the night. The anchor ,Mr Olympic (8 times!!) Ian Millar was putting in a lovely round, and then had the second to last down…just at the end. He rode so well and he may be in the hunt for an individual medal..he was so good, but just unlucky.

The Germans came out and dropped a lot of rails, including Meredith , who had one down on the powerhouse Shutterfly. Amazed us…..the Germans squeaked into the final round, but we cannot count them out…we all know that. The Swiss, the Dutch, the Norwegians, the British and the Aussies will all go forward. There is another county too, but I am missing one of my result sheets…sorry! Check out the results on the other websites…

The barns are busy all day and night, as many of the event horses have been leaving over the last two days. The Olympic organizers have thing really organized as vans take the horses directly to the planes where they are processed, loaded up, and shipped back home for a well deserved rest. I am sure they don’t look forward to the long plane rides either.

A bunch of us are headed out to Panda park in the morning for a look at the national heros of China. Should be a fun morning…we all (about 20 of us) are renting our own bus for the 45 minute trip, are having lunch over there and will return in the afternoon, to get ready for our 5pm call back at the arena. I’ll send you some more photos tomorrow.


Day 12- Show jumping- team round 1

Saturday, August 16, 2008

11a Dressage Grand Prix Special

Dressage GP Special

Well gang hang on for a great ride tonight…I’ve got it all : from lunch on HK island, to GPS, to superstars at the bar, to superstars on my bus, to superstars hugging and hand shaking the announcer, to big screen appearance #4, to acing the announcing for the GPS, to Tsing Tao in my room/office here at 2am, after a great day. Any questions? Good, you are dismissed, and remember to re read chapter 4 - test on Tuesday…

We started the day with a trip to the Soho district of HK island, the original downtown, where we were taken to a restaurant in the middle of the town, a hole in the wall, by one of the French officials of the Games. He had been here before, and with his French equivalent of the Michelin guide, he took us back to this place. Snake was on the menu – no kidding, and when Jean ordered the first appetizer, we all looked at it, fried something, and we all hesitated as he would not tell us what it was. Turns out it did look like fried snake bits, but it was some kind of pork with a great seasoned batter! Anyway, the food was delicious and the 8 of us (including the chief jumper judge, also from France, two Aussies from the eventing officials squad, the press liason, a Swedish judge, and the US announcer – what a mix, and what a lunch. We had 6 courses, and everything was terrific…the food over here is really good, lots of seafood, and many courses are served at a sitting, small portions, but lots of great food. I have only had one bad meal here, and it was in the canteen at the show. Everywhere else we have had lunch (since we work at night) has been wonderful and tasty!! Took the boat across the HK harbor, after having a beer at the Mandarin Hotel (oh yeah, ritzy as it see we have all these Brits and Aussies trying to relive the late 1800’s – when the Empire still ruled!) and then went on back to get ready for the Grand Prix Special.

Competition was super tonight…Steffen pulled out one of his best rides, on any of the horses I have seen him on. Rates up there with his WEG ride in 2006 on Floriano…I mean Ravel was so balanced, calm, relaxed, and so expressive. Steffen has taken this horse to a new level in just 3 months…he is going to be a medalist very kidding. This horse is the next holes barred. Courtney, also put in one of the top rides of her life……Myth got a little bit spooked just before she entered, but she did one of the best things I have ever seen her do…she stopped, relaxed, and talked to him and then got him back on form. True horsemanship and communication….he soon settled and she got a terrific score of 70.8.. Steffan with his solid 71.8 was guaranteed a berth in the freestyle,,,and Courtney too. They rode back to back too…very unique…..and the two Germans, Heike Kemmer and Isabel Worth did too!..The end of the class was so loaded with superstars and great dressage it was almost too much…….and the British rider, Emmas Hindle, on Lancet ( a horse previously ridden for the Dutch team, I believe) stood her ground and racked up a solid 70.44 to make the top 15 final. Of course Anky and Isabell battled it out for the top 2 spots, with Isabell and Satchmo coming out the best, despite a very strange mishap in one of the passage portions….Satchmo resisted, backed up , almost out of the ring, it was that close, just in front of the judges, and Isabell had to do everything she could to get him back on course. 1’s and 2’s on that movement. She got him back and finished strongly….75.2, even with that big error. Anky and Salinero did a fine test for a 74.96… but I need to go out on a big limb here…..having seen Salinero in video and at the World Cup before, this horse is so full of power, expression, explosiveness, and beauty, yes, but he never seems relaxed or happy…..). Anky has to ride the ….. out of him to get what she needs. But Isabell and Satchmo…it’s is so different..they are full of the same qualities, but the horse is so much more relaxed , and about his business. Salinero, a two time gold medalist , is wonderful….but next to Satchmo, it seems he is so strong and aggressive. So now, to my first sidebar: after each night we go to the small café , just outside the stable entrance, where a couple of Chinese caterers have a small kiosk. We meet there each midnight hour (after work) for a beer and some conversation. Well, tonight, we met up with Steffan, Courtney, Ashley (who made the cut), her husband, and some other officials, grooms, etc. Well, Anky comes out and when the guys locked the door to the café, she was going crazy. Not for a drink, mind you, but for a candybar. She took out of her purse, a pair of small Dutch clogs (keychain size) and waved them at the door, whereupon, they guy opened the door, and she then paid for her candybar. These guys are collecting as many pins, logos, and whatever, from as many teams as they can. So watching Anky weedle her way into the café was real treat! Then she comes over to talk to us, and when one of our British friends asks here if she is planning to go to England in December for their big dressage show at Olympia..she said” I was not planning to go to that show again, but because he (Salinero) was so full of himself tonight, I may MAKE him do that show!! Just to hear her say that was a real treat….and it verified my observations…he was more than a handful ….but he is still in the hunt! The elite gold medalist as a real down to earth and funny lady….many will never see that side of this champion… was fun.

Then I got on the bus to go home, and was told we had to wait another 20 minutes before departure..(pain in the …, at 1:30am). So who then gets on the bus with her coach, but the leader and gold medalist from Germany, Isabell Worth. Yes, folks, it don’t get any better than this…..she , however, was not looking for any chocolate bars….just a quicker ride home, like the rest of us. Anyway, enough of this name dropping…OK!

Team jumping tomorrow – 1st round (and me doing another Jumbotron course walk – apparently they all love it). Dressage is off til Tuesday night for the freestyles..jumping for the next 2 nights.

The pics are Ashely Holtzer and Pop Art for Canada, and downtown Hong Kong….

See ya, Brian

day 11 pics

Friday, August 15, 2008

10a jumping

Day 10 _Show Jumping starts!!

Aren’t the jumps great? The colors and atmosphere are totally terrific…packed stands, and the competition was super. Team USA in the lead with 3 of 4 clear in the qualifying 1st round. Finally something for the USA fans to cheer about. Beezie and Mclain were fantastic, and our “rookie” Olympian, Will Simpson put in a clear round. Laura almost made it 4 clear, but one down and one time fault gave her 5. Now, in the jumping, remember four jump, and three scores count….the right way. Maybe the FEI and IOC will rethink the 3 member team thing to make it a better competition for dressage. Things were calm for the dressage riders as they get ready for the GP Special, the first of the qualifiers for the individual medals , on Sat night.

The jumping tonight gave us a taste of what is going to develop over the next 4 days – splendid jumping and wonderful horses and riders. The best of the best are here ,,,,and it shows. Canada’s veteran Ian Millar, in his 8th Games (yes, *!!) almost went clear, and finished with 1 time fault. He will definitely be the mix as we progress thru… Brazil (2 clears and Rodrigo with only 1 time fault) and Canada (2 clears) are right behind us. Sunday night…the first of two rounds for the all coveted Team medals. Scores carry over throughout, so it’s important from here on, to not drop the rails….the course tonight was lovely and really set a marvelous tone for the athletes…not too tough but challenging and technical. It was beautifully presented with lots of decorations, flora and fauna, and Chinese themes thru out. Check out the pics…..

Now a couple of “other” fun Olympic experiences for me today…by, the way, thanks so much for all your support…I was tough on myself last night, and rightfully so, for making a big mistake. Your comments tho were spot on, and I feel a lot better , especially after doing , what I thought was, a good solid job tonight in my session of jumping . I fumbled the ball last night yes, but got back in the huddle and made the completion for the first down tonight. Thanks all…and if you haven’t read Sallyo’s comments (mother of course,) please do..Only Sally would say something like that…Love you MOM!!!!

Next: Today I was catching up on laundry, doing emails, contacting some suppliers, and doing some other work, when I turned on the TV and started to watch and listen to the women’s diving competition. It was very well covered (commentary in Chinese tho) and suddenly, up comes this Russian woman for her dive sequence. Her name is Svetlana Filipova- and I almost fell out of the chair laughing……she did a terrific dive, but look at the name folks…….and try to say her name…well, makes my job now a bit easier I’d say.

Next: After my session tonight in the show jumping, I went into the canteen for some dinner, and went in to sit down, and found about 50 or so Chinese workers watching a women’s volleyball match….turned out it was China vs. USA and it was tied going into the final match.. They had been playing forever and it was really close…..every time the Chinese women scored the whole place erupted with cheers…every time the USA spiked a point, it was only me!! I had a good laugh being in that position…good cheer all around. USA won in the third , and the workers all dispersed back to their jobs…..Olympics are so world wide and full of national pride, aren’t they?

Well, I think that will do it for tonight..Tsing Tao medicine is so good and hydrating (PAT) and helps with the writing…..see you tomorrow night after the GP Special. Oh, the top 25 include, Courtney, Steffan, Ashley Holtzer, Anky, Kyra Kirkland, Andreas H. and of course, Isabell with Satchmo, to name a few. Should be a big shoot out……we look forward to the competition. End of day 10


Day 10 -Jumping starts

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dressage Team final - night


Just by that header, you can imagine it was not a great night for our dressage squad….we finished in fourth just out of the medals. Courtney from yesterday with a 70.4 and Steffen with his 70.00 could not bring up the total enough to beat the Danish squad. Poor Debbie and our wonderful mare Brentina, had a rough day and only scored, I hate to say, 63.00….something was truly wrong with her tonight. Again, I did not get to talk to any of our team or staff, but I know they are really disappointed. It is so tough in this format when you have no drop score (all three scores count now)…so that when one of the team has a bad day, you cannot make up with another 3rd score. Too bad, because this is Brentina’s last go round…she is going to be retired. I know Debbie feels really down and sad, so let it pass before you ask any questions on her blog, etc. Steffen (last to go) had a splendid test and he and Ravel are going to be our new shining stars of the world, along with (the NEWLY crowned) VETERAN Olympic rider, Courtney King Dye!! How about that title…she has elevated herself to the ranks of the “top in the world” this week…no doubt that she is here , and here to stay. Lovely lady, lovely rider, lovely experience…She is a real player now….watch out!

The Germans are on a roll as they won the gold, thanks to Satchmo and Isabell
Worth , who blew the crowd and competition away. This horse is beyond wonderful..they were almost flawless…only a few mistakes cost her a higher score..but she beat out Salinero and Anky ( 76.417 to 74.75)…the battle at the Bighorn is coming up starting on Sat night…Gp special (50%) and then on Tuesday the Freestyle (50%)..these two are on a path to destiny…..25 riders move on, but the battle will be between these two juggernauts. Great dressage and competition. The Netherlands won the silver on the back of Anky and Salinero. This pair had a good solid test, but having seen him in better form, it was not the best outing. A little tight in the beginning, a loss of straightness in the half pass tour, and some, inconsistent, piaffe, I think, cost them better marks. He was very strong in the bridle and of course, Anky rode beautifully. Satchmo was better tho…he came out with some kind of trot work, whew!!, and started out in the mid 80’s after the first 4 movements. We were so blown away with the power and control and collection. It is some kind of wonderful to be this close to these horses and riders……they are truly in a class by themselves. The Danish team with Andreas Helgstrand with Don Schufro (68.8) , Nathalie Wittgenstein on Digby (70.4) and Anne Von Olst on Clearwater 67.35, earned the bronze outright and were very elated with the medals..They deserved it, for their strong and solid tests,,,all three.

Another weird result too… the Portugese rider, Miguel Duarte, riding the Luisitana mare, Oxalis, had to retire in the middle of the test, as she resisted, reared up and said “I;m done here!” I don’t know whether it is an Olympic first, but it was really strange, and sad, to see a rider have to leave, because his horse shut down on him. It didn’t look like any sort of medical or injury problem…horses I guess…….

And finally, another US Olympic participant stumbled at his first Olympic Games….ME! After a week of announcing and crazy schedules, etc. I made an Olympic mistake on the mic..I introduced the wrong rider!! Yep….dumb play offense…20 yrs….I got caught up in a scoring problem with my computer, looked up to see the French rider about to enter (instead of taking a tour around the arena before starting –which really threw me – I looked down on my start list and introduced her as the next German rider ( Nadine Cappellmann)….she, Julia Chevanne, for France was already into her test when the announcing team told me what I had done. Our Chinese announce had done her correctly (thank God) and I decided not to correct the error while Julia was riding. She did not have a very good test either, and that made it (for me) worse. I apologized over the PA to her and the French team when she was done, as I correctly introduced her when she was finished, but the damage was done! Needless to say, I was stunned, upset, and felt really bad. I was hoping for a mistake free Games…..I asked the TD whether or not I should write an apology to the rider, but Mariette told me to find the coach sometime and apologize that way.. I will be on that tomorrow. I started great, had the blunder in the middle, and finished strong again. Let’s hope it goes away….however, all of the other top announcers (mostly Brits) started ribbing me (and rightly so….) but I know this won’t be the end of it! Goes with the turf, I guess……I certainly will feel better about the whole thing….later. I had to tell you guys……we all stumble sometimes…even at the Olympics. I will have my “A” game on , from here on out, I promise you.

Well another medicinal Tsing Tao should help off to bed to replay my fumble….jumping start tomorrow night! The big guns are coming to play…


Day 9 pics

Fun photos of downtown HK olympic site and the medal ceremony/victory round....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 8 GP Dressage opening

Day 8 – Dressage Day1

Our GP riders, who have been here for almost 10 days, have finally started. The first half went tonight, and the second part of the draw tomorrow. Remember, that there are only 3 riders now in the Olympic format…so no drop score if anyone has any problems. Very tough!! Courtney was the first USA rider and boy did she put in one super test. Her first Games and she gets a 70.458!! Solo home run (I use this a lot I know…)! She rode about ½ thru the evening, which was calm, clear and not too hot. Humid, yes, but without the sun, the horses do much better. Good thing too, because it was in the 90’s today during the day and full sunshine. That would have been a lot different. Having the competition at night is a terrific thing – the arena looks wonderful, with all the decorations and color. Lots of halftime entertainment too! And, get this , I convinced them for me to do an “ in the arena/on the jumbo-tron’ description of the test , using tonight’s top rides for tomorrow night! How about that? I only wish Sydney had been given permission to participate….if I had him here, I would be riding in my own Olympics!! Anyway, should be fun….David and I did a great stand up on camera for the big screen , last night before the final jumping, and the crowd loved it! The boys from Redland Hunt Pony Club – the O’Connor bros !!!

Back to the GP…leading at the moment is Heike Kemmer on Bonaparte…lovely smooth, and a very strong test for Germany. Great piaffe and passge…this horse’s strong suit. She is on a 72.250, with a big surprise, Emma Hindle on Lancet, from England, in second. I have heard about this pair, but have never seen them. Let me tell you, they had a terrific test. Lovely half pass work, great changes, and very expressive. Who’d have thunk? She snuck up and stole second place from Courtney and Imke S. Bartels from Holland. Her horse , Sunrise, a veteran medalist, were having a magnificent test, when, during the half pass, she got her tongue over the bit, and hung it out for all to see!! Looked like she was commenting on the judging (which was very, very good)! She finally sucked that ugly thing back in her mouth and finished a super piaffe / passage tour at the end. We have seen this horse before performing strong tests, and she did not fail. So, after some teams have finished with two, the Netherlands are leading. Most of the other big guns go tomorrow, including Debbie and Steffan. Should be a shoot out…does Anky have Salinero ready…I would think so. Ashley and Jacquie both go tomorrow for Canada – unfortunately Leslie Reed had a tough time with her horse and could only get a 59.75…he never calmed down and disappointed her , I know.

Another fun story here…today one of the Brazilian riders made history, as the youngest rider to ever compete in an equestrian competition….she is just 16 yrs old. And, the veteran rider for Japan, is the oldest competitor in the whole 2008 Games. He first rode for Japan, as a jumper rider, in the 1960 Games. Fun stuff…..

Now back to the Phillip Dutton eventing fiasco from yesterday….Jim Wolf, from the USET Foundation came out with a statement today, which paraphrased here, said that Phillip was never notified about this new rule, that the National Federation was not properly notified of this new change, and that there was some confusion about the implementation of this new change. Jim said he , himself, was to blame for not finding out more about this issue . It is not for me to decide in this personal blog, but I hope things work out better in the future about these FEI/USEF rule changes, so someone like Phillip, who was totally out of the loop on this, does not get penalized. We all learn from mistakes and move on.

Well folks, more from the arena tomorrow..Days are a lot different now, with no more double shifts, let me tell you. The international flavor of this event continues to shine each day…you hear many languages all day long. Special hello to Mr. Ian O’Connor (and Suz)– miss you buddy and Mom !!!

Ciao, Brian

pics of pre competition and entertainment

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 7 - Bravo, Gina!

OK gang here is the great news.... USA won the individual silver medal in 3 day!!! Gina Miles and McKinlaigh have just won the silver medal at the Olympics! She jumped two clear rounds in show jumping to capture the silver. She went in in 4th, and as the two ahead of her each dropped a rail, she kept moving up. When the final rider for Germany , Hinrich Romeike went, we were all on our toes... he went into the final line of three fences, a double , and then a vertical,,,at top speed.. About 4 strides out from the line, he pushed ahead and kicked on , whereupon his horse Marius, shot forward quickly, and we thought, oh boy, you are toast now! The horse got faster and bigger towards the last (and flat too) and we thought for sure he had just given it away...but the horse somehow picked up his feet over the last and a clear round in the final gave Hinrich the gold, Gina the silver , and way up from 6th was Kristina Cook, on Miners Frolic, for Great Britain. Boy, that made all the British officials and workers (of which there are many...we will talk later...) cheer and holler. A great day for everyone and the weather was lovely, the moon out, etc. Remember , the show jumping started at 7:15 and at 11:45 pm, the night concluded! I am writing this at 2am local time! The partying will, I am sure go all night, but some of us have to work again tomorrow night, and frankly I am beat!

I have included some shots of a few jumps from the course, and Gina getting her medal. The Princess Haya (FEI Chairwoman) presented the medals and flowers to the winners – it was a great ceremony. The actual sports presentation dept. is who we (announcing team) are working for, and they were so proud of their ceremony. It was lovely and really well done. Nothing like the Olympic awards, with anthems, flags, and pageantry. Makes it all worthwhile... very cool.

There were two disappointing parts of the day though... one, personal to me , which was that our producer decided that Giles was going to announce the whole evening. Yes, I know I will be announcing the dressage and show jumping (with another English announcer ,Nick, who has done the last two Games)... but I still was a bit put out when I arrived for the day, and really only sat around to watch, and never got on the mic. I have so many friends, colleagues, competitors, etc. who really loved having two announcers kind of tag-team and alternate the announcing... but , well it is over and I will restart my GP dressage job tomorrow night. Just kind of wanted to announce Karen in the ring though...

The second is kind of strange and perplexing (and controversial to say the least)….Phillip Dutton, our superstar anchor, was eliminated from the individual competition (after he qualified for it in round 1) because of a boot infraction. Riders are allowed to use protective boots on the horses legs, but they cannot be over a certain weight...this has been a red flag issue all year, in the jumping world, and in the 3day world too. His horse's boots were found to be overweight (which, according to the rules , is a violation) and so he was eliminated. He used the same equipment for the team jumping, but apparently, his boots were not part of the random selection for testing. However, in the individual round (a separate class of competition ) his horse's boots were selected for testing... and , well, he got busted. This is not my soapbox (well, it really is) but what's up? Yes, I may get some grief for this opinion, but, hey, this issue has been out there all year…riders, coaches, and officials are all on board with this decision. Accountability.... we expect it... I can only hope that Phillip did not know, or was unaware of the problem.

Well, Germany got the team gold after 4 yrs of waiting, and the Aussies rode really well to take the silver, and the Brits were a solid and strong bronze team. Mary, Tina, William were all stars for GB, and the powerhouse Germans had three in the top 5 going into tonight's finale. The Aussies has 3 in the top 8... and our own Gina was waiting in the wings.

New USA slogans for the day: Cinderella had a ball at the Games!! Mac is Back!! Gina is Miles above the Earth, where there ARE silver linings!! Yes, you can use that in any publication...

Our other USA riders all did great too…Karen had one rail and one time fault... Mandiba will be around for a long time. But on a side note, this cross country course was SOOOO Teddy's terrain…totally Teddy's Terrain (T3)... we miss him so much.

Becky had two unfortunate rails, but finished her first Games for Team USA. Our team finished 7th (way under our usual PAR), but the horses looked strong and fit at the end. Amy was the ultimate cheerleader (as was Karen) for the other guys…a true veteran and classy lady. We will miss Poggio, as this is his last go round. He has been a major, major player for the USET Three Day team for over 10yrs... he will undoubtedly go into a hall of fame sometime.

Eventing closes out to much rejoicing (Yeah, as Monty Python fans would say- there was much rejoicing, yeah!) and we move on to the GP Dressage Team competiton. 2 nights under the lights, with lots of sights, full of might, for which I hope I can provide insight, but that is for another blog on the website... so, to all a good night!


Editor's Note: Get the official results on the FEI website.

7A pics of day 7 - 3 day final text to follow, 7B

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 6

My blogging friends on Day 6 – cross country. A bit of a sad day for Team USA – not the expected results. We dropped way down after a tough day…really it was just unfortunate things. The new FEI rules dictate now that 1 fall of horse/rider is cause for elimination (previously a rider could continue and a 2nd fall would eliminate them). Anyway, poor Amy Tryon on Poggio had a stumble upon landing at fence 10, and Poggio just couldn't pick up and Amy got dropped out of the saddle. End of her day at #10. They both walked home, very disappointed. Poor Poggio almost saved them, but their speed over the big spread fence (birdhouses) caught them out. Meanwhile the Aussies and Germans were tearing it up…I mean great riding, and some lucky recoveries by the riders ( and in eventing there are always those….) and great hearted horses. The Brits had a few mistakes but the veterans Mary King and William Fox Pitt and Daisy Dick all did terrific jobs –especially Mary who was the final rider on course. Mark Todd was #1, jumped clear to establish the do-ability of the track, and Mary aced a wonderfully fun ride at the end.

Gina Miles and Mckinlaigh were stars…they tore it up, spit it out , and are now in 5th individually. I mean to tell you it was just like her Rolex ride 3 or 4 yrs ago. Solid, fun to watch, and certainly needed for the team. Next was Becky..she was doing just great when the Chinese dragons got her at the back of the course. She had a stop, regrouped, and then was given a tech refusal for crossing her track before re-jumping. I think this will be protested …I was not able to see the whole thing because I was on another tv screen when she tried the second time. Anyway, she finished well but I know she is really upset. 60 faults plus time. I did not have access to the barns today, so I never saw any of the troops.)

Next was the rookie Mandiba. Karen was giving him a super ride and then at fence 9, the downhill brush to skinny brush arrowheads, Mandiba launched over the first, got really strong the the skinny and ran out, taking down the flag with her. In trying to regroup, Karen was almost unseated, but very cleverly stayed aboard. She then went the long way and continued on. At the end of the course, 2 from home there was a very tough line of offset brush/ditch jumps- direct line was very difficult, but the long way was being done by more people towards the second half of the day. I don't really know why Karen chose to go the direct way, but she just missed the second one, and Mandiba actually put his foot in the take off ditch (not very deep or wide), and ran out. So Karen finished the long way and went on home …40 faults plus time. Which by the way, no one made as predicted. The fastest time of the day was by the Aussie Shane Rose (9.2) and he had some hairy moments and recoveries to make it clear too.

Philip was next and did not disappoint…Connaught was super and Phillip showed, again why he is probably one of the best cross country riders, ever. He had one really long spot at the Red hill corner, but other than that, he was superb. Veteran and experience - just 19.6 time and he is in 14th.

The day was overcast and not too hot - a bit humid, but the best we could have had. Sprinkles in the early AM had us worried as storms were only started raining on the last 5 riders of the day. And considering Mary King, and the Irishman Naill Griffin were in that group, it was as if they ordered up their homeland weather!! They both did really well. Overall, the course was tough, fair, and most importantly SAFE. I think three horses met the ground, and were all led home by their riders. The poor young rider for China, Alex Huan Tian, who has been riding very well in England this past year, got dumped at the 8th..the rockpile jump. The horse was jumping well, but got too close and hung a leg, and down they both went - both were fine but the crowd who were cheering like mad for their countryman, sighed a collective AAWWWW, when he went down. Too bad, cuz he is the first ever China rep in 3day. He will be back again.

The Germans are leading, the Aussies are a close second, and Great Britain moved into third. New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, had a fall at the second to last brushes and, had to walk home too. That pair of jumps , plus the downhill brushes and skinnies were the two bogey jumps of he day…almost 80%, I would guess, of the faults were at these two series of fences. Runouts were the most problems, and a couple of falls, and fall offs…the horses didn't seem too tired or affected by the weather. Lots of misting fans for them at the finish really helped their cooling off.

One fun note was the rider from Brazil – a fairly large (and shall I say, UNathletic) man who looked like he needed the misting fans when he was done. He jumped clear and slow..but watching him finish and then with his team at the cooling area…we thought he was just going to open a beer and have a cigarette!! Just that type of guy……

I have had some responses that some of you got to see the coverage..I hope the pictures, which were really great in the control room, were good for you guys too. We had about 12 monitors for the whole course, plus the main feed that went out to the tents. I need to research this for Rolex for next year……

Announcing note: The Chinese presentation team wanted more Chinese to be spoken during the day, so we have a terrific pair of students doing that for us. However, because of the tempo of the cross country commentary and trying to do 3 languages, this day was one of the toughest announcing jobs ever. Giles and I (English) did the tag team announcing, and then we had intros in French, scores in Chinese ,and intros too….it was very hard to get in the rhythm of the day….very hard watching on tv waiting to talk , and not being "live" with our talking…..I know we missed a lot, because of waiting for the translations to finish…it seemed to take forever at times. The girls are doing fine, but when we are used to doing only one language, the timing was never great. We did fine and people were very complimentary (including some of the Chinese workers who told me that they wished Giles and I had done it all – praise indeed, I think)…but for me, I was very mentally tired after only 4 hrs. After today, it is all downhill and gravy AND we finally come to the end of morning and evening sessions. Maybe a full night of sleep (first time since, 2007, I think!!!!) will revive all of us.

So, I think that's it for now. Check out Nancy Jaffer on and follow the real reporter…I will read her stuff later tonight. I think we are headed for a boat ride in the harbour tonight to celebrate a wonderful cross country day at the Games.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

day 5

Well is the second version of my post tonight...the site has now kicked out two of my blogs (3 pages each). I have to find out a way to resolve not having to retype the whole thing over. If anyone can help me, including, please do so.

Anwyay, the final day of dressage has the USA in 3rd place, after Australia (can't beat em eh) and Germany. Phillip and Karen went today and did superb tests. Phillip had to deal with Connaught spooking at the judges houses, missing his flying changes (just like gina) and trying to keep up with the tension. Karen however hit a home run with the rookie Mandiba. She was calm, cool, and collected and put in a lifetime test on this very young horse. Her veteran experience really showed on this international stage...she hit a long home run for team USA!! No favoritism here for the O'Connors, eh?

The dressage scene here has been really fantastic...11 riders under 40.0 The quality is superb and many of the international stars were awesome. Mary King for the Brits put in a lovely test which put them right back in the mix. With Phillip almost in the 30's (40.6) and Karen scoring a record 41.9, team USA is in really good shape. Cross country is going to really decide these Olympics...the course is big and rather twisty...time will be almost impossible to make. 8 minute course, instead of the usual 10 minutes, because of the heat and humidity. We are expecting rain and storms, so we may have weather delays...just have to wait and see.

The GP dressage horses all trotted up for the horse inspection today....the US and Canadian horses all looked great, as did the superstars from Germany and the Netherlands. Being that close to Brentina, Satchmo, Elvis, and Salinero is really wonderful. These wonderful horses are truly magnificent and we all look forward to seeing them on Wed night for the opening GP team test. The US and Can team clothing is really terrific..USA with their blue blazers, white pants, and scarves/ties, and for the Canadians, red and black, with chopsticks for the women's hair. Really unique...Ashley Holtzer with choptsticks in her hair...maybe it is...wait for it...................Pop Art!!

More from the cross country tomorrow is late now, especially after having to re write this whole blog!! Help.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

day 4 _ O3

Well finally we got this thing started!! A great day of dressage with 6 scores in the 30's! One of them is Gina Miles for Team USA and the other is becky Holder with Courageous Comet...Gina would have a better score , except McKinlaigh decided he wanted to become a Grand Prix dressage horse and do multiple flying changes during the serpentine movement. Too bad , cuz she was so on form...a lovely test. She is currently in 6th. There were two battle going on...the first between the husband/wife team from Australia: Lucinda/Clayton Fredericks, who both scored in the 30's! Lucinda got an amazing 30.4 and Clayton got a 37.0. Needless to say, the Aussies are kicking b...! The second battle was , as I now call it, the Battle of the Greys .....our own Becky Holder with Comet, and Megan Jones (Australia again!!) and her wonderful Irish Jester. Becky laid down a terrific test, with lovely trot work and got a 35.9 ( I think one of her career best scores) and then right after came Megan on the lovely Irish Jester (very close to my own personality, don't you think?), who put in a free flowing , marvelous dressage test. I am telling you, the quality of the dressage, even with this new test, is absolutely fantastic. However, this 3 day event will not be won on the dressge alone..there is a lot to do on cross country, and I am sure the show jumping will be big and bad!! As far as the team standings are concerened here they are:

Australia is in the lead, USA in second and Sweden in third (but not all teams have finished 3 riders yet).. Remember 3 out of 5 scores count for the team final. Another big setback was the withdrawal of the French superstar, Nicolaus Touzaint, with his Badminton, and European champion, Galant de Sauvagere. Word is that the horse may have fallen during a longeing session yesterday...rumor at this point, but we all felt that there was no joy in Ville du Francais this night.....they only have three riders now , since Jean Toulere did not present for the jog. I hope to have more on that tomorrow, since it happend so late tonight. Remember, we had two sessions today 6:30 Am to 10:30 am, then again from 7:15pm - 10-00pm. It's been a long day friends....

I just got home to read some of your comments,,,,they are really appreciated and I love to hear from you all, many thanks!! The late evening news brought bad news about the attack and killing of a US visitor and relative to one of our coaches from another sport....seems like our results are a bit anti climatic...I hope we are not going down a bad road is tight and well handled, but can we really prevent the dedicated terrorists and crazies? This is not my soapbox for that issue..we just want, as all atheletes do, the safest, and best possible venue to perform for the world at the most prestigious competition ever. Let's pray for those family members who have lost their loved ones.....

Competition continues tomorrow at 6:30 again, and we should be done by 10:30. The horses will then be transported up to the cross country site at Beas River (about 20 miles) late in the afternoon. Back here at the main arena, we will have the horse inspection (trot up) for the Grand Prix Dressage horses at 4:30pm....busy day, change of clothes, and maybe,,,just maybe some sleep!! That's all for tonight (day for you all),



Friday, August 8, 2008

day 3b -photos

Hello and welcome from day 3!! I have just come back from our opening ceremony, parade of athletes, and am now back in the hotel watching the parade of teams in
Beijing!! How cool is that? Our opening night here was super..lots of theatrics, lion dances, and lots of color and fanfare. The Honk Kong Jockey Club, who owns all of the Olympic equestrian sites, hosted us tonight, and it was wonderful. Good music, lots of food and drink, which we needed - more in a minute - and great international comraderie. In fact, what is so neat about the Games, is that wherever you go, you hear at least 3 languages being spoken. We are all here because of the horses, and here in HK, where only the equestrian events are being held, it is a HUGE thing for everyone. The Chinese workers are all so helpful, full of national pride , and are so pleasant. We have loads of high school and college age students working in many of the venue operations, and they cannot be more pleasant and full of assistance. It is so nice to be nice...and it really shows here at Shatin.

Anyway, back to the competition. Cross country rehearsal this am was a poured with rain for at least 2 hrs, which caused us to delay. We finally got things rolling, just to get all the volunteers done - they had been out in the pouring rain for over 4 hrs! Radio systems failed, we had to regroup more than once, and finally called it off after about 2 hrs. This happened last year too, at the test event, but when we did the actual competition, things went really well. I am sure the team will do a fine job! What with all the rain we had, over 2 inches just this am, the water jumps were about 2-3 feet deep! Regulation is 18" max!! Water was pouring off the course so fast the drains couldn't handle was a sight to see. The officials decided that if we have the same amount of rain on Monday (the actual cross country day) we will have to delay until it is safe to go. Wise move....many of the riders are , in fact, poor swimmers, and the rescue teams do not have enough power boats to cover the whole course!!

Back to TV you think those poor Chinese girls are going to run out of dance before all the athletes come into the stadium? Cool thing with the opening of the scroll...

Well the horse inspection was not without drama....most horses were sharp, looked great, full of energy , and were presented fine. The US horses all looked good, even when they asked Phillip to re-jog (what for?)...Connaught was fine. Two horses were NOT accepted, one from Brazil (lame) and one from Chile. The Chilean horse would not even trot down the lane, no kidding,..the rider had to drag him down the lane. The horse looked awful (I mean sick), did not even walk well, and when the rider borrowed a small whip (to jazz up the horse a bit) the horse backed up scared, looked terrible and was really an embarrassment. The judges did not even ask him to re-jog (it was that bad). How this horse even got qualified to be in the Olympics is beyond all of us. We have never, ever , seen such a situation. Good thing we have these checks and balances from the officials to be able to prevent any further embarrasment, or worse, injury. We all hope this horse can get some medication to help him feel better - he was not right at all.

Next was William Fox-Pitt (the #1 British rider) being sent to the holding box for re-examination. Yes! Well he came back about 15 min later, whereupon the judges had a long chat with him, and then he did not re jog , but turned and walked away! The whole crowd were stunned...had the top British rider just been eliminated? The horse was perfectly fine in the trot up...what was happening? My co announcer was asked to say " Parkmore Ed is accepted, and the hold was not due to lameness or the way the horse moved." What did that mean? Well, turns out, the horse has a pronounced stomach ulcer that bulges out around the girth area...the vets have been aware of it since the horse arrived, and they, along with the judges just wanted to verify that this would not prohibit the horse from performing at his peak. For those of you not in the know, the horse had a type of bruise under his belly that had swelled up - thus causing a large bump under his stomach..Not painful or damaging to him at all....well when the horse was accepted, the whole British team, audience, and officials sighed a huge relief! Drama at the Games, let me tell you!!

Well tomorrow we start the competition...6:30Am....yes that is correct, ...1st competitor (2 time gold medalist Mark Todd, New Zealand) in the arena at 6:30 AM!! Our call time is 5:30......dressage under the lights at 6:30!!! We have a morning session till about 10, then a second session tomorrow night from 7-11pm. Each team will have two riders in the morning, one at night, and two on Sunday morning. Equal for all. The US team order is: Amy, Gina, Becky, Karen (did you know she is my sister-in-law, the double gold medalist from the Pan Am Games - you know I HAVE TO SAY THAT),and Phillip as the anchor. Good line up I'd say - Amy leading the way, and Phillip being the "sweeper"! The timetable was not available to me so you can go on line to find out the ride times.....

Finally, some promised photos of the cross country jumps, me in the control booth, and assorted pics so far. Check out the details on MES's course - the dragons are beyond beautiful... See y'all tomorrow,

Brian O3

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 2 O-3

OK, yes it rains when it pours! I talked to Sue and Mike Etherington Smith (course designer and really super fun wife) and they said it has rained over 12 inches in the last 30 hrs!! 12"!!! and better than that, nearly 60 inches (yes, 5 feet) in the last 6 wks. It is like the longest wettest time you have ever known, and then add some. Kind of like the USA Midwest over the summer...

Mike ES has created another masterpiece on the cross country. The use of pandas, brush, red color, lanterns, natural logs of the region, 3 water jumps, and a triple (3) dragon combination, and of course the Great Wall replica (as a 3 part downhill combination with drop rails and corners). Is is truly one of his best artistic designs of all...tight turns tho , will make the track tough to make time on. Options are available and the crowd will have a lot to watch. I will send photos tomorrow after I replace the missing camera download cable, that I just found out is still in my office...again sorry. enjoy some pics of the arena and jumps from last year!!

The horse inspection is tomorrow afternoon, after our rehearsal in the early morning for the cross country. I hope to get you the order of go for tomorrow's posting. Well, after my medicinal Tsing Tao, I am off to get rid of the jet lag. See ya, go USA,,,enjoy the opening ceremonies tomorrow night.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 1 - I am here!!

Well gang, finally I am here!! YEAH!! After almost 30 hrs of travel, what with a plane being fixed, missing connections, and the level 8 typhoon which hit here today, I was a bit longer in the travel. Good thing about the delays though cuz I would have missed the plane if not.....

Well I finally got to Chicago after a 6 hr delay, and our first plane parked right next to the 747 going to HK...someone was watching over me. 15 minutes to spare...on an international flight!! You know why they call those west-east coast overnights the "redeyes' dont you? Well, I am calling the 15+ hr over the pole to HK trip the "red body" for the same reason. Man, I feel like a pretzel...AND I got up and walked, stretched, etc. A LOT!! The small Asian woman sitting next to me took over my seat everytime I left!! Saw Kung Fu Panda...cute..and now I am One
With the MIC...kakoi,,, rest and be one with the mic...yes, oh great master of the airways!!! Shure-Pan....

Finally got to HK, was whisked thru Immigration and customs, by the super welcoming staff, put on a bus and am now back at the super Riverside Hotel, which is only 1.5 miles from the stadium. I am off tomorrow am for my passes and credentials, followed by a course walk, and hopefully a meeting with my athlete friends ( and yes, of course my sister - in-law, the Olympian, and her husband the Olympic coach....) follow along with our family tradition....those of you may remember the 50th HK thong....ask Karen later about it if you are not in the know!!!!!

Rained and typhooned all day here, I hear...most HK-ians (is that a term) go home to , yes it's coming....ride it out, but only the riders tried to Ride it out in the ring...jumps were falling over, rain coming sideways...sound like a real event kind of day!!

Well, I am sitting here at 1Am after a 30+ hr day, am exhausted, and can't go to sleep...what's that about? More tomorrow on the OCONNOR OLYMPIC ODDESSEY!! O-3 , i have called it,