In an interview with the press office of the CHIO Rotterdam, Edward Gal revealed that he is preparing his return to competition sport with the 2024 Paris Olympic Games as goal.
Gal has not competed since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and took a sabbatical in 2022.
On the Paris Olympics
As a European (2009) and World Champion (2010) and a World Cup winner (2010) as well as former world record holder, Edward Gal has achieved almost everything in his career. In 2022 he took a break from competition but was still seen on the international sideline as a coach of several Dutch riders.
However with the 2024 Olympics in Paris on the horizon, a fire seems to have been rekindled inside him.
"Now that I have achieved everything and am a few years old, I no longer have that. However, an Olympic Games is always the goal of a top athlete and if you have the right horse at the right time, that is great. Paris 2024 is rapidly approaching and this looks like it's going to be a special event. That is also my ultimate goal. The first time you ride a championship is always the nicest and I have experienced three Olympics, but I would also like to ride in this fourth one."
On Mental Strength
In the interview Edward disclosed that he is now mentally stronger than he was at the start of his career.
"I still want to do everything as good as possible, but nowadays I'm less affected by a bad test. I mean that before when I made a mistake I would be sick for 14 days because of it," Gal confessed.
The interviewer asked Edward what he thinks of the current state of dressage and if there is something that stands out for him.
"In fact I miss the true horse people from the old days. When I was young(er), horses was the entire life of many riders. People who year in, year out were starting new talented horses. I also regret that there are no more figureheads. Maybe that's because of social media. In the past the audience read the newspaper and equestrian magazines and only saw the top riders and horses only a few times a year at the big shows. At the moment, you can follow everything and everyone on social media every day."
On Social Media
Edward Gal is notoriously absent from social media and has often criticised the behaviour of some people on Facebook and Instagram. Also in this interview he touched upon the matter.
"I wish that everyone would be a bit nicer to each other and especially on social media," he said. "Sometimes it can be very painful of what is being said there. Too little is given to that. Especially in horse sport, people who have never ridden at a certain level give their opinion, whether appropriate or not, while it is totally unnecessary. It is ok to criticise but it's important to do it in the right way. At a certain moment, you can't be bothered by it anymore, but it has hurt me. I'm deliberately am not on social media, but of course I heard what's happening and I think it's becoming an even bigger problem for many people and things. Last but not least it is not good for our sport."
The interview concludes with the question whether Edward is a Christmas person.
"As a matter of fact I am entirely not. I feel little connection to those holidays," he replied. "They bring up too many emotions for me. My father died young and it hurts extra on these type of days. Of course we celebrate Christmas. Christmas Eve is usually with friends and if we have no show, one day with Hans Peter's family and the other day with my family. In the past it happened that we were at the show in Mechelen on Christmas. On Boxing Day we had the vet check and the next the competition started. That's why we don't have that show marked as fixed in our agenda."
Edward's first public appearance on horse back will be at the 2023 CDI-W Amsterdam where he'll ride in a demonstration.
Read the complete interview here. (in Dutch)
Edward Gal Makes Come Back into the Public Sphere at 2023 CDI-W Amsterdam
Edward Gal Takes a Sabbatical. No Competitions in 2022
Jonkers, Van Rooij, Luiten, De Koeyer and Gal Win 2021 Dutch Dressage Championships