Teary Oatley silences her neigh sayers in fine style
|Teary Oatley silences her neigh sayers in fine style - 3rd Aug 2012|
|Australian equestrian's ''Grandpa, can I have a pony?'' saga had a happy ending at Greenwich on Thursday, when Kristy Oatley shut out the controversy over her selection with a solid performance in the dressage.|
As if the drama of the lead-up hadn't been enough, her horse Clive began to cough as they entered the arena, with Oatley realising he had something stuck in his chest that he desperately needed to shift. At this point, with critics waiting for her to slip up, a coughing fit from her mount would have been disastrous.
''To do that last halt, the relief - [I've] been out there, done it,'' Oatley said, fighting back tears. ''It's been difficult, most definitely, with all the commotion that's been going on, and the unnecessary focus on myself, which doesn't help one focus properly to prepare. I had to block everything out and concentrate on my horse.''
Her selection ahead of the higher-ranked and recently better-performed Hayley Beresford had split the equestrian community and emboldened those who scoff at its elitism. Oatley and cousin Lyndal are the granddaughters of Bob Oatley, a billionaire benefactor of the sport.
Oatley scored 68.22 per cent, and was lying 10th early in the day's individual grand prix program. She had no idea what her score was as she left the arena, after patting Clive repeatedly for a job well done, her relief plain to see.
She had heard over the loudspeaker that one judge had given her a 63, and thought that was a bit shy but said it was not in her power to decide on her mark, just as it wasn't her job to pick the team.
''I just wanted a clear test with no mistakes. I think I had one small mistake in one flying change, but otherwise all I wanted to do was go out there and do my best.''
Her husband, Peter, and youngest children, Rose and Ben, were in the stands (seven year-old Oscar is busy with a football camp this week), and Oatley spotted them as soon as her test was finished. She waved to them and the other clusters of Australians in the packed stands.
Her concern turned to her congested horse, of whom she was immensely proud. ''I just felt as soon as I turned the first corner, I felt him go down and you could feel him wanting to cough. He's just been so good at holding it back, the poor thing.''
She managed to focus on Clive and the task at hand in recent weeks but said being part of a controversy that has thrown equestrian into the spotlight for the wrong reasons was always there.
''It still stays in there. Of course you have some people out there who have a negative vibe. But you have so many positive people who are behind you, who stand 150 per cent behind you, that knocks out that bit of it all.''
Having laughed that she has ''three children and three Olympics'', Oatley said she would definitely push for a fourth Games, but settle with three ''beautiful, healthy children''. She was looking forward to putting on tracksuit pants and having some chocolate.
''I'm pleased with how I went and my horse went, and all the rest doesn't matter.''
Courtesy Fairfax Digital and www.smh.com.au