By Shehan Daniel reporting from Tokyo, Japan
Having had her first taste of an Equestrian Jumping championship at Tokyo 2020 on Tuesday, Sri Lankan-born Swede Mathilda Karlsson is hungry for more, even if that first bite left a bitter-sweet aftertaste.
Taking part in the Equestrian Jumping Individual event, Karlsson and her horse Chopin VA faced a 14-obstacle course consisting 13 fences and a water jump, each depicting a different piece of Japanese culture or symbolism of the Olympic Games.
Her participation ended prematurely, when Chopin VA pulled up short of two of the first eight obstacles, with a second refusal by a horse in this event resulting in an automatic elimination.
She chalked that up to their inexperience in this sort of a competition and admitted to mistakes during that run, but the early exit did not change her desire to want to compete further for the country of her birth.
“Next year is going to be a very important year because we have the World Championships and the Asian Games. When we get home we are going to start preparing because now I have so much more experience on what to do, what I need to do. And Chopin and I will be one more year more experienced,” she said on Tuesday after her event.
Karlsson was the first Sri Lankan to qualify for Tokyo 2020, with all those qualification points tied to one horse, in this case Chopin VA, which meant she could not contest over a five month spell when the mare contracted Lyme disease.
After Chopin VA was passed fit to compete, Mathilda and her horse scraped together the required points within a month to qualify for Tokyo 2020, proving that the duo were a perfect fit together.
However, she may need to look at a different horse to share the load with Chopin VA for next year’s competitions.
“I don’t think he can do both (the World Championships and the Asian Games). He'll probably have to do the World Championships and maybe we will see if we can get support from someone to approach a different horse to do the Asian Games, because it would be great to be able to represent Sri Lanka in both,” Karlsson also said.
“That's something we'll go home and organize and plan and try to find a horse to be competitive. I don't need that kind of quality and scope that I need here. Then maybe I need a faster horse that will go and win it .”
She believes a medal would be attainable if she compete s in the Asian Games.
“Definitely (can win a medal), if you can get here and do everything we have had to do to get here. My plan and my goal here was to go to the final, but if I go to the Asian Games, my absolute goal will be to go for a medal, I won’t doubt for a second. I would be very disappointed if I didn’t,” she said.
“I think (Chopin VA) he needs to do the World Championship, it's going to be like this, it's going to be top class. And Asian Games, we have a good chance to have a very good placement because it's going to be much less than this.”
Karlsson will also likely continue participating in the Longines Global Champions Tour, the route that established her as an equestrian, and continue towards her current rankings in the tour , which currently stands at 265.