London Olympics 2012: In the Shadow of Kings

The equestrian portion of the London Olympic Games will play out against a backdrop of history and royalty.
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The equestrian portion of the London Olympic Games will play out against a backdrop of history and royalty

London–an ancient city where tradition and trendiness intersect–is the place to be nowadays. First, in April 2011 the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton drew the adoring eyes of everyone who loves a good old-fashioned happily-ever-after complete with princess and pomp. Then, fresh from that joyous occasion, the focus returned to where it’s been for nearly four years: the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which commence in July.

One of the reasons London won its Olympic bid was that organizers promised a compact Games, with every sport held within easy reach for a vibrant, urban, accessible competition. That includes the Olympic equestrian sports (jumping, eventing, and dressage), all of which will be held at the historic Greenwich Park. (The equestrian segment of the modern-pentathlon competition and the 2012 Paralympic Games equestrian competition will be held there as well.) Here’s a preview of what to expect.

The Site: A Global Treasure

It’s impossible to overstate the historical significance of London’s oldest Royal Park. The land has been settled since Roman times (the remains of a Roman temple are still in the park), but in 1427 the 183-acre site–situated in southeast London about eight miles east of the central historic district –became a royal estate when Henry V gave it to his brother, Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester

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Written by:

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation’s magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site, www.jenniferbryant.net.

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