Karlsson set for dream Olympics debut in Tokyo | Daily News

Karlsson set for dream Olympics debut in Tokyo

Mathilda Karlsson having an official practice session with her horse Chopin VA
Mathilda Karlsson having an official practice session with her horse Chopin VA

TOKYO, August 2 – Sri Lanka’s Mathilda Thanuja Karlsson’s cherished dream of competing in equestrian at the Olympic Games will finally be a reality when she takes part in the individual jumps at the Equestrian Park here tomorrow (3).

Groom for Sri Lanka Team, Nikolay Nikolov said their competitor is in top form. "We were joking to her that this Olympics were specially delayed to accommodate her, referring to her international arbitration of which the result was announced only last April. If the Olympics had been held as usual last year, we would be out. That’s why we call this to be her dream Olympics," he said.

Groom for Sri Lanka Team, Nikolay Nikolov

"Yesterday we had official practice on the very same track where tomorrow’s events will be worked off. It was held under lights and both Mathilda and her hybrid horse Chopin VA have fared well," he added.

"She is confident. She has a good chance of making it to the last 30. We will have one more practice session tomorrow morning before going into competition at night," Nikolov said.

Beside him and the Sri Lanka Equestrian Association (SLEA) President cum Team Manager Suranjith Premadasa, there are two more support staff in her team, who have been given accreditation for Sri Lanka – German Horse Assistant Personnel Manfred Von Allworden and French Vet Cedric Jake Lilian Marie.

Premadasa and Sri Lanka Chef-de-Mission Gamini Jayasinghe too visited the Equestrian Park today to see Karlsson having practices with Chopin VA on the penultimate day before action starts at 7.00 p.m. Japanese ST (3.30 Sri Lanka time).

But the result will get late as 75 competitors are there of which the Sri Lankan is coming at number 13.

But Karlsson would not have got an opportunity to compete in the Olympics if the 206-nation Games had been held last year as scheduled.

Covid-19 pandemic threatened to postpone the global sporting extravaganza by a year but that delivered some blessing in disguise to the Lankan lass.

Despite making a direct qualification, the first of the three Sri Lankan competitors to achieve so, she had to prove a point. She enjoyed ranking points obtained at CSI2 competitions held in Villeneuve-Loubet, France in December 2019.

But her results from the competitions were annulled following an International Equestrian Federation (FEI) investigation, which found that a number of competitions offering points towards Olympic rankings had been added to the schedule in Villeneuve-Loubet after the deadline for definite entries.

She appealed the decision to the FEI Tribunal but the case was dismissed in June 2020. However, Karlsson, with the backing of the SLEA and Romanian jumper Andrea Herck, successfully appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In April 2021, they decided that the FEI had made an error in approving schedule changes submitted by the French Equestrian Federation (FFE) and that the FEI could not annul competitions due to ‘human error’.

Hence, she would never have got a chance to compete at the Olympics if the Games were held as scheduled.

She will create history by becoming the first Sri Lankan to compete in the 125-year history of modern Olympic Games. She is roaring with confidence with her horse Chopin VA.

The official round of practices was held last night under very similar lighting conditions.

In the individual jump category, there will be 75 competitors taking part in the first-round after which 30 will be picked for the final round on Thursday (5).

Germany has won the most Gold Medals in Olympic equestrian sport - 26, reflecting the country's equestrian heritage and passion for the sport.

Add new comment