Golden Opportunity: Caroline Powell
Olympic Review continues its countdown to the 2012 Games with exclusive interviews with stars of the 26 sports on the programme, who are targeting gold in London. After winning the prestigious Burghley Horse Trials in September, New Zealand’s Caroline Powell – who made her Olympic debut in Beijing – is eyeing a podium finish in London.
You got your first taste of the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 – what was that experience like?
It was quite amazing. I was a groom for British rider Ian Stark, who I worked with for quite a while. That was my first experience of the Olympic atmosphere.
It seems like you’ve come a long way in a very short time over the last few years – what do you attribute that to?
In eventing you need a lot of determination, a lot of staying power and a certain work ethic. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve got a really good team behind me.
What was it like to compete at the Beijing Games in 2008?
Quite amazing. It’s quite a hard thing when you’ve got horses travelling because of the logistics and quarantine and things like that. It’s not just a case of turning up and competing, there’s a lot of other stuff to do. There were a lot of pressures that we hadn’t really had before, but it was certainly very good to experience.
Things seem to be going very well for you at the moment – how special was your victory at Burghley in September?
Burghley was amazing. People keep talking about it and I can’t believe they’re talking about me I have to keep pinching myself! It’s certainly opened up a lot of doors and made people realise who you are. It’s great.
You won bronze in the team event at the World Equestrian Games in October as well, so things are certainly looking good for London 2012?
We’ve got a year to get organised and now it’s more about regrouping horses and working out what we’ve got and what we’re going to keep and what we’re going to replace. There’s a lot of organisation into this part of the year for 2012. After having the success of getting a medal, you’ve got more of an idea of what it’s like to have that success, so it does make you a little bit hungrier.
How special would it be to win an Olympic medal?
It would be amazing – especially after the World Equestrian Games, where there was a really good team atmosphere and everybody had a really good time. If we can keep that going for the next couple of years we should be spot on.
New Zealand has experienced competitors like Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson – what’s it like having people like that competing alongside you?
It’s really good. Everybody brings in a different strength and to have those two, and then the young guys coming through as well, is great. It’s a very male dominated team but I seem to be able to cope okay with that as well!
The equestrian events are going to take place in Greenwich Park. Have you had a chance to look at the plans for the venue?
There’s an event there next year, which hopefully we’ll be able to get to so we can have a look, but it should be quite good I think.