Take 2 — London Calling
Show jumping shines at Greenwich Park
Rodrigo Pessoa, Beezie Madden and Ian Miller are not names that most people are likely to recognize. To me, however, they are as common as Michael Phelps and Serena Williams. They are the names of some of the most accomplished show jumpers in the world, and I got to see all of them ride for Olympic gold.
Any one of my friends will tell you I am obsessed with horses. I've been riding all my life and knew I had to see an equestrian event while at the Olympics. I didn't have tickets when I arrived, but I (kind of) cheated and used my school's address in London to register as a UK resident. From there, I stalked the London 2012 ticketing website for four weeks until the show jumping tickets were released.
I managed to score tickets for the individual qualifier at Greenwich Park on Aug. 4. Initially I was disappointed that I wasn't going to see a medal round, but then I realized I was going to see all of my favorites in one morning session. I spent four hours watching 75 Olympic-level riders and their horses leap over jumps that are more than five feet high.
The course was amazing, with many jumps decorated to look like local hot spots. My favorite jump was a replica of Stonehenge. I can safely say it was my favorite day in London all summer.
The Americans did make history when 18-year-old Reed Kessler took to the arena. She is the youngest equestrian competitor in Olympic history, and she jumped a clean round in front of 20,000 people. I was so impressed!
The National Maritime Museum is practically inside Greenwich Park so I stopped by on my way out. But my plan to kill time at the museum to get away from the crowd didn't work. There was still a queue to get out of the park, and I had to wait for about 15 minutes before I could set off through Greenwich to jump on the Tube. The rain came pouring down, of course, but even that couldn't dampen my day.
The queue to leave Greenwich Park. The sun was shining but the rain continued on and off all day. Photo by Susie Salem