Joshua Riker-Fox: Miles of Trials (for just a little longer)

This article was originally published on Joshua Riker-Fox's website.

I’m often asked if I am aiming for Rio and the answer in case you are also curious is I’m not sure. Of course I want to compete in a second Games, but my first focus is TO2015 and all the steps to prepare for that.

Like last year, I’ll do a few competitions leading in and then with any luck, the skills will show themselves. As part of the qualification process, the USAP #3 meet in Colorado and the 1st World Cup in Sarasota were both meets to attend. Colorado went fine as I was the highest placed Canadian, though it wasn’t a great meet. Sum it up to early January dust to knock off. The Sarasota WC, my first in 3 years, went relatively well. I didn’t make the final, finishing in 18th (roughly top 12 making it), but I fenced well and overall showed progress. The highlight was the mixed relay where Mel and I again had a really exciting result, finishing 3rd. This is my first World Cup medal, at the tender age of 31. It’s a funny thing in pent because us Canadians all retire relatively early for the most part. But because the sport is so technical, athletes from elsewhere tend to have a longer lifespan in the sport. So I’m far from the oldest athlete in the field, but I’m not the newb I once was. 

Now that I’ve officially qualified for the the 2015 Pan American Games (imagine a big smile on my face), I’ve had to select what meets and training I want to do leading in. This is still somewhat of a mystery. But as I’m writing this in Berlin now, I’ve made some choices… The first is to compete at the Open German Championships, which I did yesterday, and next weekend I’ll compete in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow… Yes Kremlin Cup… That’s the name and there is a bit of angst given what’s happening in the country now. This is my third time to Russia and the visa application was a significant stress again. I am very fortunate to do this competition though as it’s an invitation meet with decent prize money. My hope was if I come to Europe to compete back to back and train in between. So I should have good training in Berlin this week. As far as the competition went – I had a good swim, quite a solid fence, and a good combined run/shoot. I was ranked as high as 7th I believe. Sadly the riding event was obscure. The course was reasonably challenging (1.10m-1.20m), but the variety in horse ability was significant. My horse had a really tough round with the first rider and on top of that, was a bit lame when I mounted. Apparently the rules are that once you’ve mounted, you can’t request a reserve horse (which is ridiculous and inhumane). The riding coach Rick, made the choice based on that to go forward as if everything was ok, make the best of it. Admittedly I could have ridden better, but the horse had four stops and that results in elimination. I think I was last eliminated in the ride when I was just a young athlete, so this has left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m reflecting on the positive pieces more than the negative, but I think I had a reasonable chance to battle for a top 5 finish had that not transpired. The horses were shipped in from Poland for this meet and most are quite good, but there are a couple lemons. It’s a shame but perhaps I’ve got that bad luck out of the way now! And it’s motivation to become a better rider, so I can solve more difficult challenges like this in the future.