O.G. 2016, the countdown starts! And a few « necklines » away from this Brazilian Olympic deadline, we want to take the pulse of pre-selected athletes. Get to know their mindset, their travelogue, and to come across journeys and personalities.
In short, Equest’Rio’, is launched!
First horseriding victory: 15 years old
How many Olympic Games have you completed? 1
Your favorite motto or expression? Keep Going
A mentor or reference?All great athletes
First horseriding victory: My victory at the Cadet French Championships at 14 years old.
How many Olympic Games have you completed? Two.
Your favorite motto or expression? Remain positive.
A mentor or reference? Not really but I am always impressed by people who have talent.
If I say RIO, what springs to mind (aside from the Olympic Games)?
Kevin: Football, beaches, carnival.
Patrice: Sugar Loaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach and the Corcovado, of course.
When you were a child, what Olympic story made you dream?
Kevin: Those relating to Jappeloup and Carl Lewis.
Patrice: Those relating to French team gold medals at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 with Marcel Rozier, Michel Roche, Hubert Parot and Marc Roguet. The image of those riders who subsequently became veritable stars in the equestrian world has remained in my mind.
What experience has remained with you from your last Olympic Games?
Patrice: I took part in the Athens Olympic Games in ’96 and Sydney in 2000 and unfortunately left a rather bitter taste in my mouth: fourth place by team on both occasions… So close to the podium…
What is your “roadmap” for getting to Rio?
Kevin: A few compulsory stop-offs such as La Baule and Rome, followed by a period of substantive work and then full steam ahead during the two final months.
Patrice: I am getting Orient Express* HDC ready and the roadmap will be arranged according to the horse’s physical and metal shape. In principle, we have five competitions planned: Anvers, La Baule, Rome or St Tropez and Rotterdam, and maybe a final training competition to keep the horse in peak condition just before the Games. We are going to see how the horse does on the big events and in order to do that we need to keep an eye on our kilometers.
Aside from the physical and technical preparation of your horses, do you undergo any physical and mental preparation yourself?
Kevin: Yes, physical both morning and evening for my back; and mental because it is key to one’s mental strength in current high performance sport.
Patrice: I have physical preparedness training for an hour with a coach twice a week: I work on loosening up, core strength exercises, muscle building and cardio.
Is the Olympic Games “pressure” different in comparison to the World Equestrian Games or the World Championships?
Kevin: I don’t think so because I try to treat each competition the same way. The stakes are different as is the impact of success or failure.
Patrice: Yes, unquestionably. There is strong pressure from the media and palpable excitement on the part of everyone. Organizing the World Equestrian Games in Caen gave us an opportunity to feel the level of pressure that there can be at this kind of meeting and this time I’m taking it as a sort of test drive for the Olympic Games …
Is there a “pairing” that you regard as a particular threat at these Olympic Games?
Kevin: No, I worry about not being good enough…I am my own worst enemy…I need to work and optimize every detail to try and be as good as possible that week.
Patrice: Not just one! There are five or six very strong couples. Certain riders today even have two or three ultra-competitive horses in the biggest events.
What is the key priority when you arrive in order to acclimatize the horses to the time difference (after a 12 hour flight) and to the change in environment?
Kevin: The medical aspect. We are still having discussions about this with the entire veterinary team.
Patrice: The top horses are used to flying around three times a year. So it isn’t really a problem for them even if the waiting times in airports are very long and may tire them. Their sleeping and recovery times are fragmented so they don’t manage time differences like us. The grooms and vets are also there all the time to keep an eye on the slightest physical or behavioral signs that might be abnormal.
What other disciplines would you like to watch at these Olympic Games?
Patrice: I would like to see the eventing and the dressage as well as the flagship events such as the 100 or 200 m in the athletics.
Yours is one of the rare mixed sports. Does competing against women provide a greater competitive edge?
Kevin: I wouldn’t say competitive edge, but rather an additional level of difficulty because the women are really high performers.
Patrice: No, when I see Pénélope Leprévost, I see a teammate, a competitor, not a “woman” in the macho sense of the term. I don’t see any difference.
“THE TEN COMMANDMENTS”
What is your first thought in the morning?
Kevin: Have I got a headache?!!
Patrice: What I’m going to be doing during the day.
What is your most important quality?
Patrice: I am even-tempered. I avoid contaminating my entourage with my moods.
What is your biggest fault?
Kevin: Being defeatist
Patrice: Maybe not being communicative enough with others and remaining withdrawn.
Your biggest fear?
Patrice: Not being able to achieve the goals I have set myself.
Your greatest source of pride?
Kevin: Being passionate
Patrice: My family.
Your first big horse?
Kevin: Kraque boom
Patrice: The one that introduced me to the international circuit: Laeken HN
What question annoys you the most?
Kevin: “Not too disappointed?”
Do you have a lucky charm?
Patrice: Yes, but I’m not elaborating further!
The best advice anyone has ever given you?
Kevin: “Don’t give up”
Patrice: I’ve had a lot, so I make my own decisions based on my own mix.
Your definition of success?
Kevin: The satisfaction of a job well done, experiencing the joy of success.
Patrice: To remain modest and keep one’s head firmly on one’s shoulders.