Some Olympic horses in Tokyo are being distracted by decoration of a sumo wrestler right next to one of the jump fences, according to the Games’ riders.
Each of the fences is decorated with unique artwork that relates to a part of Japanese culture. For example, one fence dedicated to Tokyo’s skyline and another pays tribute to the Japanese crane creature which brings luck, longevity and fidelity.
However, the tenth showjumping fence contains a statue of a sumo wrestler which the horses are confusing for a real person, according to
Olympic horses are being distracted by a statue of a sumo wrestler next to one of the fences
Team GB’s Harry Charles (above) claims the statue (right) is scaring some of the animals
The 17-year-old British rider told the
The tenth fence, called the Sumo Tower and the Wrestler, stands at 1.62 metres tall and is the joint-tallest fence that horses and riders have to clear at the Tokyo Games.
Charles himself may choose to blame the decorative artwork for his performance on Wednesday as his horse Romeo 88 failed to clear four fences and the British teenager had to retire before the end of his first round.
Riders are greeted with the rear end of the sumo wrestler when they come round one corner
Meanwhile, Scott Brash fared slightly better in the individual showjumping event on Wednesday, enjoying an impeccable first round on board Hello Jefferson but a time fault cost him his medal chances.
Brash did, however, pay tribute to the artwork present on the fences at this summer’s Olympic Games, despite his team-mate Charles’ concerns.
The 35-year-old added: ‘You know it’s going to be colorful coming here. You know it’s going to be decorative. And it’s beautiful, you know?
‘It’s fantastic. That’s what makes it a championship. If it was just plain old jumps, it’d be just like any other week.’
Each of the fences at Tokyo 2020’s equestrian park pays tribute to Japanese culture
However, not everybody shared that positivity as Israel’s Teddy Vlock describing the sumo wrestler on fence ten as ghost-like who is prepared to charge at you.
‘It is very realistic,’ the 23-year-old said. ‘It does look like a person, and that’s a little spooky.
‘You know, horses don’t want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he’s ready to fight you.’
The decorative artwork on the fences did nothing to distract Team GB’s Ben Maher, 38, who put in a sensational jump-off performance on Wednesday to bring the individual showjumping gold back to Great Britain.
Israel’s Teddy Vlock described the sumo wrestler right next to fence No 10 as ghost-like
The wrestler did not put off Team GB’s Ben Maher (middle) who took the individual showjumping gold
Tasked with defending Nick Skleton MBE’s gold medal from Rio 2016, Maher waited for all 29 riders to go first before jumping last to finish third in the opening round.
In a dramatic jump-off involving the top six riders, Maher recorded a time of 37.85 seconds in the jump-off which ended up being 17 hundredths of a second faster than his closest rival Peder Fredricson from Sweden.
It is Maher’s first Olympic gold medal since London 2012 and Team GB’s fifth equestrian medal of the current Tokyo Games so far, with the team jumping event still to come.
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