Lightsource sponsored event rider Kristina (Tina) Cook received an important call from the British equestrian team selectors last Friday. It was announced that Tina and her horse Billy The Red will be heading to the Rio Olympics as Britain’s Eventing team’s travelling reserve.
Tina’s Rio call up came following the disappointing news from Izzy Taylor having to withdraw her mare Allercombe Ellie from the Olympic team competition due to an injury. Tina has represented team GB at the Olympics in either a team or reserve role three times in Sydney, Beijing (winning individual bronze and team bronze) and London (team silver) with Rio marking her fourth consecutive Olympic representation for Team GB.
“It’s very exciting to be heading to Rio with Billy The Red” commented Tina. “It’s a bit frustrating too as we are not guaranteed to compete. If I do get the chance to ride it will be because another team member is unable to, so it would be rather bitter sweet for us. However, we are heading to the Olympics and if we get the opportunity, Billy and I will literally be going for gold”.
This is not the first time that Tina has been in this position. Twice before she has been the travelling reserve at the Olympics, the first time in 2000 at Sydney and secondly at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where the equestrian competition was actually held in Hong Kong. In Beijing Tina would not even have been competing at the games if the horses of both Zara Tindal and Lucy Wiegersma had not gone lame. However, riding the thoroughbred Miner’s Frolic she plucked the individual bronze medal and the team bronze from literally nowhere.
“I am a bit of a pro at this”, Tina cracked, “I have been in a similar position before. My role out in Rio will be to support my team members, ensure Billy is ready to go and should I get the exciting chance of riding, then our job will be to perform and get the job successfully done”.
Prior to Friday’s news, Tina was already scheduled to fly to Rio to join BBC Five Live’s commentary team. However, Tina and Billy The Red will now be flying to Rio on Friday 29 July along with their other team members as Olympic athletes.
“I am not allowed to do both jobs” Tina explains. “If I do not end up starting as a competitor, I will have to hand in my Olympic athlete accreditation and be re-accredited as a member of the media and I will join the five live commentary team for the Eventing competition”.
Tina was speaking from the Equestrian Team GB’s final training camp amidst the current heatwave and explained;
“We just had our final team training today and it’s been hot work for the horses and riders. But that’s good as it will be a similar climate in Rio and it helps us and the horses adjust to the warmer environment ahead of arriving in Brazil.
“I am pleased for Billy The Red as he deserves this opportunity. He is a lovely young horse and is also laid back so he should cope with the travelling and new surroundings. In fact I think he will thrive on it”.
The full British eventing squad for Rio is:
- William Fox-Pitt on Chilli Morning
- Kitty King on Ceylor LAN
- Gemma Tattersall on Quicklook V
- Pippa Funnell on Billy The Biz
- Travelling reserve: Tina Cook on Billy The Red