Equestrian at the 1964 Summer Olympics
The Equestrian Events at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo included Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. All three disciplines had both individual and team competitions. The competitions were held from October 16, 1964 to October 24, 1964. These events took place at Karuizawa, which would become the first city to host Summer and Winter Olympic event when it hosted the curling events for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.
This was the second time the Olympics were held in a city that required most of the horses to travel short distances (the first being the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles). Unlike the 1932 Games, however, there was a high participation rate due to the better economic conditions as well as the ability to fly the Olympic mounts to Japan. However, horses that could not be controlled had to be destroyed. This included the US eventer Markham, who panicked during departure from Newark, and an Argentinian horse had to be destroyed while flying home. Additionally, a Chilian horse died of a heart attack while flying to Tokyo. Overall there were 116 entries from 21 countries, including 13 women, with 4 nations fielding teams in all three disciplines: Japan, Germany, the USSR, and the USA. The youngest participant was Christilot Hanson-Boylen from Canada at 17 years old, while the oldest rider was the Irish Harry Freeman-Jackson at 53 years old.
46 riders from 17 nations contested the Shunzo Kido-designed course, which was 780 meters in length with 14 obstacles and 17 efforts. The hardest question was towards the end of the course. The penultimate obstacle was a 5 meter wide water, followed by a left turn to an impressively large oxer. Only 6 riders cleared the water in both rounds, and only 3 cleared the final oxer without faults both times. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that the ground was very deep due to heavy rain leading up to the event. Pierre Jonquères d’Oriola became the first show jumper to win two individual gold medals (having won in 1952 with his mount Ali Baba).
Dressage reintroduced the team competition after removing it from the 1960 Games. 22 riders from 9 nations competed, and there were just enough teams (6 required by the IOC) to hold a team competition: Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, the USSR, and the USA. 3 judges were present, first judging a 12 minute 30 second Grand Prix test and announcing scores immediately after each ride. This was followed by the considerably shorter Grand Prix Special, at 6 minutes 30 seconds, which acted as a ride off. Each ride in the Special was filmed and examined by the judges, with a 2 hour delay before the final scores were announced publicly.
Held in Karuizawa, 150km from Tokyo, the 31-obstacle cross-country course was criticized as being too straightforward for an Olympic Games. Phase A was 6km at 240 m/min, followed by a 3.6km steeplechase at 600 m/min, then 13.92km Phase C at 240 m/min. The cross country was 7.2km at a speed of 450 m/min, and was followed by Phase E, a 1980 meter gallop at 330 m/min. Italy gained the lead after the endurance day and held it to win the gold medal. Germany was in silver medal position but lost it on the final day to the United States.
American Lana du Pont became the first woman to ride in an Olympic evening competition.
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- Equestrianism at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games, Sports Reference, retrieved February 27, 2011
- International Olympic Committee medal database
- Tokyo Organizing Committee (1964). The Games of the XVIII Olympiad: Tokyo 1964, vol. 2.
- Wallechinsky, David and Jaime Loucky (2009). "Curling: Men". In The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics: 2010 Edition. London: Aurum Predd Limited. p. 150.