They let the media walk about the Olympic equestrian course Monday. We were warned not to touch anything. They must have known the carnage we’re capable of.
On television, the Greenwich Park horse course looks like a funhouse ride, complete with cannons, giant globes, replicas of London Bridge, the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, the Cutty Sark clipper ship, a painting of Charles Darwin, a photo of Mr. Bean.
Okay, they didn’t have the Mr. Bean photo, but Darwin was there in all his full-bearded, scientific glory.
The difference between walking the course, as opposed to seeing it on TV, is that it gives you get the full scope of the jumps, which fall into two categories - enormously high or stunningly wide. Usain Bolt may be the fastest man in the world but he’d need two days and a ladder to get around this course.
The jumps are nicely decorated with British landmarks and Olympic images, but there were some notable missing elements. There wasn’t a pub jump with a group of people gathered around a TV yelling, “Lovely ball.” There wasn’t one with Becks and Posh or Austin Powers or the Black Knight from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. (“Come back and jump, you coward.”)
All in all, we media types got to spend 15 minutes walking around the Olympic show jumping ring, measuring our strides between jumps because that’s what everyone else was doing. It was all great insight into what these Olympic-calibre horses and the riders go through, although if the riders ever carried the horses over these jumps that would really be amazing.