In 2016, eventing rider Thomas Carlile was on his way to Rio when his horse was injured. It was a big disappointment because he was in France when he saw the French Eventing Team becoming Olympic champions. Five years later, the time for revenge has come for Thomas Carlile!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU AS A SPORTS FAN TO GET A TICKET TO THIS WORLDWIDE EVENT?
It is a dream come true! The Olympic Games are the ultimate celebration of sport. It feels like the planet is stopping: we take out the white flags, politics, religion, and skin color don’t exist anymore…
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WERE SELECTED?
After the show in Vittel, I realized that I had a chance to be selected. I started to sweat and sleep less (laughs). On July 2, in the morning, I received a phone call from Thierry Touzaint (coach), Sophie Dubourg and Michel Asseray to officially announce that I was selected to represent France at the Olympic Games. It was like a victory!
A FEW WEEKS BEFORE you leave, WHAT IS YOUR STATE OF MIND?
I remain a bit “heavy” with my team, aware that between the announcement of the selection and the departure, we must remain very careful. This dream can escape us at any time for a bullshit!
YOU HAVE ALREADY WORN THE FRENCH COLORS, BUT WEARING THEM FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES, IS IT DIFFERENT?
Yes it is different, at the Olympic Games the whole country follows us. We do not represent only the French Eventing Team, we are part of the French delegation. If we are lucky enough to bring back a medal, we add it to the medal table of the country.
Thomas Carlile, YOU ARE ONLY THREE RIDERS (AND ONE RESERVIST), THIS IS THE NEW RULE! THE RESULTS OF THE THREE COUPLES IN EACH OF THE THREE DISCIPLINES WILL BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS?
Without a joker, there is no room for error! The draw will be decisive for the cross-country test. Starting first will be a big disadvantage: no time to make adjustments. But this can add “spice” to the competition by opening it up to other nations.
YOU WILL LIVE THE OLYMPIC GAMES WITHOUT PUBLIC, WITH A LIMITED OLYMPIC LIFE…
I try to see positive things. It will help us to concentrate and we will be less distracted.
HOW IS THE PREPARATION GOING?
Very well, we learn to know each other better and to build a team because we are above all individual athletes. We clear our minds, because we often have brains saturated by a lot of little worries linked to the management of our stables. This allows us to concentrate on the essential.
UNLIKE OTHER COMPETITIONS, YOU ONLY GO WITH ONE HORSE. DOES THIS CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH birmane?
It is true that the rhythm is not the same, being able to ride your horse every day may seem to be an advantage, but it can be a disadvantage if you want to do too much. You have to stay tuned, not change your habits too much. It is better to come “fresh” and a bit under-trained than over-trained and tired!
ARE YOUR LUCKY “SUPERMAN” UNDERPANTS PART OF THE TRIP?
No, the superman underpants don’t exist anymore !!! (laughs)
WHAT SHOULD WE WISH YOU BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE?
To do what I do best. I hope to be able to surpass myself of course, but if I can repeat my last performances I will be fulfilled and I will come back from these Olympic Games very satisfied.
By Marine Costabadie