Doda Going for Gold in the Place Where It All Started
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian show jumper Alvaro Doda de Miranda has extra motivation to succeed at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The Olympic Equestrian Center is on military land in Deodoro and Doda's grandfather, who served in the army, was based in the area.
"The house was just 50 meters from the arena here and the house is still the same," Doda said. "My father grew up here and the reason that I ride is because my father was raised with horses. My grandfather wasn't cavalry but my father always loved to go to the horses, to see and to ride.
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"So everything started here which also gives me a lot of motivation."
Not that the Brazilian team needs any extra motivation.
Riding in front of a passionate home crowd on Tuesday, Brazil comfortably qualified for the following day's team final and every clear round was greeted with a roar by the packed arena.
"This is unbelievable," Doda said. "Of course we have the pressure when we ride here but it's a very good feeling. It's a positive pressure. You want so hard to give to the crowd a clear round, that helps a lot and gives you an extra push."
Brazil, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany all qualified with no faults and will be joined by France, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland.
However, defending champion Britain is out after finishing in 12th place on 13 faults. Even if an ongoing appeal is successful it would only push the team up to ninth, still outside the qualification zone.
Brazil and the Netherlands will be hampered by the fact they only have three riders. Stephan de Freitas Barcha was disqualified on Tuesday, while Dutch rider Jur Vrieling was eliminated in the first qualifier on Sunday.
"We go with three riders but I was talking to the guys here, in Barcelona Holland won the gold medal with three riders," Doda said. "It's more difficult, it's not the best situation but it's possible."
Doda and his horse Cornetto K are a relatively new combination, having only started competing together in January.
The 43-year-old Doda, who won team bronze in 1996 and 2000 on Aspen, admits the partnership has struggled at times but puts that down mainly to the fact his personal life "was a mess" as he was in the middle of a high-profile split from his wife, billionaire heiress Athina Onassis.
Doda credits a lot of his success and that of the Brazil team to American coach George Morris, who joined in January and has been to 15 Olympic Games as rider and coach.
"He's brilliant," Doda said. "I know him very well. I really pushed for him to be our coach. A guy like that with all the experience, all the background he has, he's a genius, a legend. He's the best and gives us a lot of confidence."