If defending champion Olympic jumping Steve Guerdat, of Switzerland, can claim back-to-back individual gold in Rio de Janeiro, he will be the very first jumping athlete to do so in the history of the Olympic Games.
Guerdat’s achievement would be all the more remarkable for the fact that he will be partnering the same horse that carried him to glory at Greenwich Park in London, Great Britain, four years ago: Nino des Buissonnets.
Guerdat’s individual jumping gold was the first for Switzerland in 88 years, the previous one claimed by Lt. Alphonse Gemeseus and Lucette in Paris, France, in 1924. It was quite a moment for the then-30-year-old rider, who was just edged out for top honors in the closing stages of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Cup Jumping Final three months earlier.
“But that was an important step to this medal,” he said after claiming the London 2012 title. “He (Nino des Buissonnets) had a big break after the World Cup and just four shows before he came here. I wanted to keep him fresh and confident. I know I have a freak of a horse under me and I knew that if I took time with him it would be easier when he came here (to London).”
Now 34, Guerdat is a veteran of three Olympic Games as he arrives in Rio with the 15-year-old Nino who has been given a well-planned lead-in to the big event once again. Their last major victory together was in the Grand Prix at Geneva, Switzerland, in December, with the brave and quirky horse otherwise mainly kept under wraps apart from a stunning double-clear in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping leg in Ro