Aug 03 2021. views 8841
Equestrian Mathilda Karlsson will make history when she competes at the Tokyo Olympics representing
Sri Lanka in show jumping. This is the first time that Sri Lanka will compete in this discipline at the Olympic Games. In an exclusive interview with W@W Mathilda gives a glimpse of life in the Olympic Village and how she feels on the eve of her competition. Adopted by a Swiss family at just three months old, Mathilda took up horse riding as a way of making friends and spending time with her peers. Like a duck to water, she took to the sport. Mathilda had competed at many events representing Sweden but after a visit to Sri Lanka in 2017 she fell in love with the land of her birth and felt a real connection to the island. This inspired Mathilda to switch to Sri Lanka and ride under the flag of her home country. A consistent rider on the Longines Global Champions Tour, Mathilda is delighted at the opportunity given to her to make a name for herself in the sport and make her home country proud.
What is the atmosphere like in the Olympic Village?
It’s amazing- totally insane. I have not experienced anything like this ever!
How are the other competitors interacting with each other?
Everyone is adhering to the Covid guidelines issued by the organisers and everyone is wearing a mask. That said, everyone is very open and happy to seek a conversation with you. We are all exchanging pins as well.
How is Chopin enjoying his new surroundings?
He loves it especially all the attention he is getting from everyone.
How would you describe your emotional status right now?
Emotionally just super excited and thankful that I have got the opportunity to participate in such a great sporting event. I’m also very proud of my team, my horse and also myself as to how far we have come.
What does it mean for you to be competing as a Sri Lankan?
I’m blessed and proud to represent such a beautiful country as Sri Lanka. Every single person I have met from Sri Lanka have been friendly, helpful and with a very happy living spirit. Just what I like!
What are the events you are competing in at the Olympics?
Showjumping on the 3rd of August and hopefully I will make it to the finals which will be held on the 4th.
How many years of training have you done to get this far?
I have been riding for 30 years, but I became a professional very late. I have been jumping consistently at the highest level since 2017 taking part in many competitions. Before that my focus was more on training young horses in show-jumping.
How do you prepare yourself mentally before each event?
I surround myself with people who make me feel good and know how I work and also are very familiar with my horse. I believe having good, dedicated and professional people around you gives you good confidence in everything.
How many people do you have in your team?
We have a team of about 5 people who travel with Chopin and I. But we also have people who have to stay back at home and take care of the future champions at home.
How would you describe your rapport with Chopin right now?
We are at a big advantage on that front because I know my horse better than most of the riders do since I have been by his side since he was born. He doesn’t know any other rider than me. Our bond is something very special and unique.
What would you say to your Sri Lankan fans around the world?
I couldn’t be prouder to have such amazing people as my fans. I do appreciate every single message on social media. Please keep following us and support us! I promise I will do my very best at my event to make you all proud of me. Emotionally just super excited and thankful that I have got the opportunity to participate in such a great sporting event. I’m also very proud of my team, my horse and also myself as to how far we have come. It’s amazing- totally insane. I have not experienced anything like this ever!
Photo courtesy: Mathilda Karlsson