Saturday, August 9, 2008

Paris Weeps: Touziant Withdraws from Olympic Eventing Before Dressage

Galan de Sauvagere and Nicolas Touziant. I already had them pencilled in on my medal list. Touziant (shown at left) has been all but unbeatable in world-class company for the past year, including a win at Badminton. But today we learned that France's "heavy medal" individual eventing favorites withdrew in the warm-up because of his horse's hind leg lameness.
According to USEF's Joanie Morris, a despondent Touziant didn’t have a diagnosis, but his explanation involved an accident in the stables during a thunderstorm that took its time materializing. The French team was in shock and made the decision to withdraw him in the horse’s best interest.

I was not planning to write about Touziant for a couple of days, figuring that he would be neck and neck with the Fredericks after cross-country. I wasn't expecting this sort of news.

Olivia Robinson of the FEI shared this information:

"Thierry Touzaint, uncle of Nicolas and also French team trainer, explained that the 14 year old gelding had taken fright while standing in his stable during the thunderstorm that rolled over Hong Kong early yesterday morning.  'He fell over but got up again and we didn't think there was much wrong with him but later in the day he began to go lame and today it was much worse,' Thierry explained. 

"Yesterday Nicolas rode him and was concerned about his condition but, in the hope that he would improve and without any clear understanding of what was wrong with him even after veterinary inspection, he persisted again today but had to admit defeat.  'He just wasn't right - we think perhaps he has injured his stifle or it could be a tendon but as yet we are not certain,' Thierry explained.

"This was devastating news for the defending Olympic champions but Didier Dhennin and Ismene du Temple registered a good score of 42.80 yesterday and currently lies tenth while, although reduced to just a three-man side, Eric Vigeanel (Coronado Prior) and Jean Renaud Adde (Haston D'Elpegere) could keep them in the game if they can produce something special tomorrow morning. "

Galan de Sauvegere could be loosely translated to "elegance of the wild man" or, to make a linguistical leap of idioms, "the noble savage". The gray's Olympics hopes have been dashed at an Olympics game that we were told had only heat and humidity to worry horses. No one was expecting a typhoon!

Sorry, Nicholas, for your hardship. Thanks for taking care of your horse.

Here's a video slide montage of the French team, now minus both Galan de Sauvagere and Espoir de la Mare. There will be no dramatic defense of the Athens gold medal. The captions are in French but I am sure you will figure out what they say!

Some insight into the remaining French riders, who took home the gold medal at Athens in 2004, is shown here via the French English-language channel, France24. The video was made before the team left for Hong Kong, but it has some good insight into the team and some great behind-the-scenes footage.

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