Swiss equestrian Markus Fuchs has his sights set firmly on a medal in Athens – his fifth appearance at an Olympic Games.
The rider from canton St Gallen and his 15-year-old stallion, Tinka’s Boy, are leading a talented Swiss show-jumping team.
The 48-year-old Fuchs is the most senior – and the most experienced – member of the team chosen to ride for Switzerland at the Olympics. He has taken part in every Games since Seoul in 1988.
The equestrian from St Josefen was ranked world number one for a long time, won the World Cup in 2001, and already has an Olympic silver medal to his name, earned in the team event in Sydney in 2000.
His preparations for the Olympics suffered a setback, though, when he injured a thigh adductor muscle during a competition in Geneva last December.
But he appears to have made a full recovery, winning the Grand Prix in Aachen, Germany, one of the season’s most prestigious events, and beating many of the riders he will be facing in Greece.
His event starts on August 22 at the Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre in Athens.
swissinfo: You are an experienced Olympic competitor. What does a fifth Games mean to you?
Markus Fuchs: With experience, you learn to downplay the importance of such an event. You aren’t as affected if you don’t perform well. But the Games remain a unique event and cannot be compared to a World Cup competition.
The Olympics are the biggest media event in the world, and you have an entire nation watching your every move.
swissinfo: Four years ago, you won a team medal in Sydney. What are you aiming for in Athens?
M.F.: Tinka’s Boy is an excellent horse which can win me a place on the podium in the individual event. It would unrealistic to expect us to do as well again in the team event.
The injury to Beat Mändli’s horse, LB Pozitano, has deprived us of one of our key players and has lengthened the odds on us winning a medal.
swissinfo: Did you make any specific preparations for these Games?
M.F.: No, the preparation is the same as for any big event, except we will spend more time in Athens beforehand. The other difference is that each rider can only use one horse during the Olympics, something that isn’t usually the case.
swissinfo, Raphael Donzel
Four years ago in Sydney, Switzerland (Fuchs, Melliger, Mändli and McNaught) won silver in the team show-jumping event.
Fuchs, a former world number one, will be among the favourites for an individual medal in Athens.
Only Moser (1948), Chammartin (1964), Stueckelberger (1976) in dressage and Gemuseus (1924) in show jumping have won gold for Switzerland.
The three equestrian disciplines in Athens are: show jumping, dressage and the three-day event.
Five riders have been selected for the show-jumping event: Crotta, Fuchs, Guerdat, Liebherr and Barbeau (substitute).
The equestrian competitions take place over 11 days, from August 15-27, at the Markopoulo Olympic Equestrian Centre.