Distraction of shifting house helps Todd relax
FRED WOODCOCK IN LONDON
Mark Todd has been distracted lately, but he reckons that's a good thing.
The New Zealand eventing great has upped sticks during the past few weeks, having moved from his Berkshire home to a property between Marlborough and Swindon in Wiltshire.
Up until now he's been renting stables but he "splashed out" on his new property and will complete the move after the Olympics.
It has provided him with a nice change of focus at a time when athletes can become all-consumed by the Olympics, and the search for the perfect preparation.
"Mentally it's definitely been a distraction from the Olympics, but that's probably a good thing," the 56-year-old told Fairfax Media ahead of the Olympic event, which starts on Sunday (NZ time) with the first day of dressage.
"I haven't had too much time to think or worry about it and I'm very happy with where we're at. In fact, I couldn't be happier or more relaxed about it. It's the Olympics and it's still pretty exciting, but it's not the same as the first time I went [in 1984]. It was new then."
If any rider should feel relaxed heading into the event, it's probably Todd.
He's seen it all before - this is his seventh Olympics - and he's achieved it all too - two Olympic gold medals as well as two bronzes to go with five Burghley titles, four Badminton triumphs and a long list of other major victories during a career that is into its fourth decade. He is the only Olympic champion in the field at Greenwich Park.
He had a significant setback earlier this year when his top mount, 2011 Badminton winner Land Vision, was ruled out through injury. Todd speaks of him in the same breath as Charisma, the horse on whom he won Olympic gold in 1984 and 1988.
The younger, more inexperienced Campino has stepped up to be his Olympic ride, and his form is perhaps why Todd feels so comfortable.
"The last few months, the horse has just improved and improved, he's really stepped up to the mark, and I'm going into the Games very happy and confident," he said.
"At this stage of his career, he's in the best possible form. His biggest weakness is the fact that he's relatively inexperienced, but he's good in all three phases and I think he's capable of being up there among the leaders after the dressage."
Todd took the 9-year-old bay gelding to the Olympic test event at Greenwich last year and said he had coped well with the cross-country course and artificial arena.
Interestingly, if Todd were to win a medal in London, it would equal the Olympic record for longest gap between winning first and last Olympic medals - 28 years.
It would also cap a remarkable comeback to the sport in 2008, after eight years in retirement following the Sydney Olympics, where he won a bronze medal.
It'd be a cracking story, and one few would bet against.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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