Rio's emotional roller coaster | Niki's Blog

Published 14 August 2016 (AEDT) | Author Niki Rose

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: bronze medallist’s Shane Rose, Stuart Tinney, Sam Griffiths and Christopher Burton of Australia pose during the medal ceremony for the eventing team jumping final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Equestrian Centre on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Sean M. © 2016 Getty Images

Niki Rose - Shane Rose's wife (equestrian)

Well, the past four days has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster!!!

The Equestrian discipline of Eventing in general has many highs and many lows, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games certainly delivered just that.

The whole competition from start to finish was so exciting, to be honest I can't actually remember a more exciting and nerve racking international Eventing competition.

Since my last blog I managed to pack up the four kids and drive up to my parents property on the Gold Coast. I decided to come up for the duration of the Games as up here I have a couple of willing baby holders (thanks Mum and Dad!), and I can categorically say that with four kids all at the age of four and under, two extra sets of hands certainly comes in handy!

The time difference between Rio and the east coast of Australia made watching the competition slightly challenging. The equestrian events took place between 11pm and 4am Sydney time each night, which is rather uncivilized, however there was no way that I was going to miss a minute of the action!

With 3 month old twins I have used the past three months as my own personal training program for the Olympics, nights of literally no sleep or at best broken sleep have prepared me well for the Games! I managed to watch the competition every night, and survived on very little sleep. Winning!

I must say Channel 7 did a fantastic job of covering the Eventing competition, from the couch I was able to watch every competitor compete in every phase via the app. It was also great to see the Cross Country and Showjumping shown live on 7Two and 7.

The competition started with the dressage phase, and quite frankly it was just a big relief to get to the start of the competition! After London when Shane's horse suffered an injury on the eve of the competition, I must admit that every time I spoke to Shane in the lead up I held my breath until he confirmed the horses were fine and that his preparation was going well!

Shane and his horse CP Qualified (or Darcy as he is known to his friends) performed a lovely test and he was not far off the leaders, so we were confident that if he added no more penalties to his score that he would be in medal contention.

Shane had said that the cross-country course was a very tough track, a true Olympic test, and I knew then that it must have been tough as Shane rarely says that a course is difficult. Many said it was the most challenging course since the Sydney Olympics, and following the event the statistics showed that it proved to be even more difficult than Sydney!

Shane felt his horse was capable of jumping the course well. Shane was the fourth and final rider of the team, so his plan would depend on how the first three riders faired on the course as in Eventing, the best three of the four scores count towards the team total. Luckily for us, our team was on fire and the first three horse and rider combinations stormed around the course.

If any one of the team riders before Shane had incurred problems, Shane would have been under team orders to play it safe cross country to ensure a clear round to be counted towards the team score. This would have meant he would produce a slower, conservative ride cross-country. However, as our team was in a good position and the club house leaders, Shane was able to fire out of the start box and the aim was for him to jump clear and fast. The course had proved difficult for many riders and if Shane and his wonderful horse CP Qualified were able to get home clear and fast, he would extend the teams’ lead and also put himself in contention for an individual medal. 

The faster you travel cross country, the higher the difficulty and the risk for errors also increases, however Shane and CP Qualified were answering each question with ease. I found it very stressful watching, praying and hoping that everything goes to plan. They were looking fantastic and as they neared the end of the course I knew they just had to negotiate the last water fence, this fence had four jumps and they jumped the first three well. To get to the last element they could either go direct on a tight left turn, or circle to the right.

Shane started to take the left turn but then changed his plan and decided to circle to the right, but by this stage in the course his horse had started to tire and the turn to the right took away his forward momentum, and then CP Qualified really just switched off and lost all forward desire.

Rowing pictogram

He had basically hit the wall, and he never really looked at the fence when Shane re-approached, and there was nothing Shane could do to get him to refocus and jump the jump.

So unfortunately that was the end of the competition for them. I sat at home with my head in my hands, I knew how hard Shane had worked to get there and to see his dream come crashing down so close to the finish line was absolutely heartbreaking. Words can’t even describe it really.

I spoke to Shane not long after and he was understandably disappointed and of course the 'should have', 'could have' versions of events were constantly on his mind.

In hindsight he wishes he had jumped a couple of fences differently and gone a little slower so that he had a bit more fuel in the tank for that final water fence. If he had have known his horse would tire like he did, he would have made a few different decisions that would have resulted in a much different outcome.

However, Shane quickly realised that there is no point dwelling on what could have been, what happened had happened. The good news was that we already had three good scores on the board and the team had still finished cross-country day in the lead, a very narrow lead but the lead just the same!

Show-jump day (or night and very ridiculously early morning for us back at home) was a very anxious one. Now that we only had three horses and riders every penalty counted, and with the scores so close it was vital that we jumped as many clear rounds as possible. Our horses and riders went out and gave it their all in an effort to bring home Gold. Sadly a few rails fell which added penalties to the team total, and ultimately the team finished in the Bronze medal position, France had taken the Gold and Germany the Silver. Although our team desperately wanted to win the Gold, they were thrilled to be able to take home the Bronze.

Getting so close to winning the Gold has only elevated the motivation to perform for Shane and his team-mates. I know they are already discussing plans for Toyko in 2020. This is one of the fantastic things about our sport, and in particular Shane. He doesn’t ever give up, instead he looks forward to the future and figures out how he can improve and be the best next time.

Sitting at home I honestly feel drained from this emotional rollercoaster! I am so proud of Shane and the whole team, including the Equestrian Australia and AOC support crew.

There is a huge team of people that make these crazy dreams possible. Time now to enjoy the Bronze medal, I think from all reports the boys are certainly doing just out Rio!

Shane Rose

Shane Rose

Equestrian - Eventing

Equestrian - Eventing

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