Journeys to major competitions are littered with milestones but, as the timeline to competition shortens, the milestones tend to increase with just a little less than two hundred days to go to the first horse inspection of the Para-Dressage competition in the land of the rising sun. Tokyo 2020 is game on.
The countdown for most nations began in their quest to qualify for the Games, for some this qualification was gained in Tryon at the 2018 WEG, for others at the European Championships of 2019 and then there were individual quota places still be allocated.
The milestones in the past weeks have come thick and fast and. the administrative wheels in every National Federation will have been spinning to ensure :
• that there is a declaration of syndicates (horse ownership) in June, for the horse to be eligible to compete at Tokyo 2020.
• Each NF and its associated National Paralympic Committee (NPC) will need to have completed and submitted their initial accreditation submissions by the close of 2019; these first submissions can be huge as the net of those in contention for Tokyo 2020 is cast wide as selection is some way off yet.
• Individual and Team rankings are critical in the run-up to a Paralympic Games and the Qualifying period closed on 31.1.2020.
For those still chasing ranking points, there were a massive number of qualifying CPEDI's in January 2020 to provide those final opportunities to move up the rankings as individuals. With the qualifying period now closed and places allocated, it now remains for the bipartite slots to be allocated in March to complete the quota allocation for the Games of 78 places.
NPCs will need to confirm their acceptance of their allocation before another set of milestones kick in as the journey to Tokyo 2020 continues.
Returning to the nations and individual slots already allocated, these nations cannot for a minute rest on their laurels as the "to-do list" is never-ending.
National Federations will be working on the final details of their training strategies for 2020, which competitions they will target and, how they will prepare athletes (two and four-legged) for the final push to Tokyo 2020. To arrive at Tokyo 2020, Games ready, athletes both equine and human will have undergone a challenging and complex journey, and for the majority, it will be the culmination of many years of hard graft, incredible highlights and, some lowlights as they pursue their passion to perform with gritted determination and passion.
As such, no stone can be left unturned in this final preparation stage. National Federations will be focused on providing optimal support to their athletes, in respect of travel preparation , the change in time zone, the climate, the culture, the new competition format, the revised regulations for classification and the window within which this must be reviewed, and the financial implications of what is thought to be the most expensive Games yet.
For many athletes and members of the support teams 2020 will be their first taste of a Pre Export Quarantine camp which will run for seven days ahead of the horses flying to Tokyo. The last time there was a formal "closed" Pre Export Quarantine was in 2008 for the Beijing Games.
More on the Pre Export quarantine in the next article....
- by Sarah Armstrong for Eurodressage
Photo © Jon Stroud
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