After a strange apotheosis of the Nations Cup, the Dutch showjumping riders just jumped to fourth place. Without knowing it, they just set another orange record at the Games in Tokyo. This was the eleventh time an NL team had ended up doing this “misplaced”. One more time than in Rio, where the number of fourth places reached double digits for the first time: ten.
In his closing remarks in Rio five years ago, Moritz Hendrix spoke of “increasing the intensity of competition”. The Technical Director of NOS-NSF was referring to the decreasing differences between gold, silver and bronze. But the difference between fourth place and medals also narrowed. According to him, a lot of missed opportunities indicates that the Netherlands have done well in general.
That kite has also flown in Tokyo in recent weeks. More medals than ever and more fourth places than ever. And what if? What if the US team was eliminated in the 4x400m mixed relay and did not finish third in the final ahead of the Netherlands? But fourth place does not always lead to frustration or disappointment. Ranomy Kromovidjogo ranked fourth in the 50m freestyle “probably the most beautiful fourth place ever”.
Gold is up for grabs
Fourth place came from the jumpers in the Nations Cup final in a strange way. After two rides at the equestrian park, nominees like Great Britain and Germany had no chance of winning a medal. The three Dutchmen came and scored 17 penalty points: nine for Mark Hotsager (Dante), zero for Harry Smulders (Bingo de Parc) and eight for Michael van der Vleuten (Bovel Z).
With this number, the formation of national coach Rob Earns had to contend with Belgium (12), the United States (8) and Sweden (8). France was the last country to have gold on hand. Penelope Librevost could afford to make the mistake of jumping to extend the Olympic title in Rio. However, the experienced rider had to watch patiently because her horse Vancouver de Lanlor was not getting through his day. The stallion refused to jump twice, after which the group was eliminated from the competition.
Because of this unexpected turn, the United States and Sweden had to jump for gold. After the three Americans and the Swedes toured flawlessly and at a fast pace, fate fell into the hands of Peder Frederickson at All N. The Swede, brilliant as ever, flew over obstacles with his opponent in the fastest time. For the first time since 1924, gold went to Sweden, ahead of the United States and Belgium. The Netherlands came in fourth, an ungrateful place, but good for setting a record.
Another jumping error that would have cost the Netherlands the Nations Cup final
A medal seems a long way off for the Dutch riders at the Nations Cup, although everyone will be starting from scratch in Saturday’s final. “We keep fighting.”
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