Q&A With Clark Montgomery

Now that you've qualified, has your training or preparation for the Olympics changed at all? 
Well, I'm here in the U.S. I've been living in England for the last four years training and competing over there so being selected means I have to be back here now. It's been different because it's a bit foreign to me, I haven't been over here in the last four years. 

Equestrian is such an international sport. You live in the U.K. but you're originally from Texas. What is it like to travel and live all over the world with the sport? 
It's fun! You get to meet all sorts of different people and see different cultures. A lot of times you actually don't leave the venue but you still get kind of a small taste of what that country is like and the people that are in it. 

Do you have a favorite venue or competition? 
Usually the ones I win! Like Blenheim Palace is a beautiful venue, there's a big palace in the background. I would have to say Blenheim is one of my favorites and I happened to win there. 

Do you remember the moment when you realized you could be an Olympian? 
It all started coming together last year but you never know. Little things, especially with the horses, can go wrong all the time. This year everything was going well. But I do remember the moment when I actually got the email saying I was selected. It was very emotional. It's been a dream of mine for years with blood, sweat, and tears along the way. It's a huge reward just to be named to the team and to have the opportunity to get to go. It makes it all worth it. 

As a kid did you ever think you would get to go to the Olympics? 
You know your school books as a kid, you had to cover them with construction paper and do all that? All my doodling on there was the five [Olympic] rings. I've been infatuated with it since I can remember and I really do think I was more infatuated with the Olympics than horses and then realized that could be the sport that I get to go.

How have your family and friends reacted to the news that you've qualified?
Oh, they're freaking out. They're absolutely freaking out. They're more excited than even I am. They've supported me all along the way so it's as much of a reward for them as it is for me.

Do you have any friends or family going to Rio?
My wife is going. Her mother, who part owns my horse as well, is going. My dad is definitely going. I think some other people have hinted that they want to go. We'll have a good support group. 

What are you doing to stay mentally and physically fit leading up to the Games?
Well physical [fitness] is a bit difficult because I'm over here with one horse. It's easy to overtrain once you do that. So where we're stabling, lots of friends with lots of horses, so hopefully they'll let me ride some of their horses and just kind of keep me fit that way. I'll work out a little bit, go to the gym make sure I don't get fat or soft with not having as much to do. Honestly, I'm trying not to think about it too much. I've been just trying to stay as normal as possible, try to treat it as just another competition -- that was one of my big motivations of living to the U.K. is that I would compete against all these competitors regularly so that, if I were able to go to the Olympics, it wouldn't be "Oh my God, there's so-and-so, there's so-and-so." I know them really well now. I know all their horses really well. So I just had to, as much as you want to break out that you're going to the Olympics, kind of forget that part and then it's just the competition. 

The partnership in equestrian is interesting in that your horse can’t verbally communicate what he’s feeling or thinking. How have you and Loughan Glen learned to communicate with each other? 
I've had this horse since he was five so we have a long long partnership. He's 13 now. So even if he's not saying things in words to me, I know every little thing. I know if he's standing in his stall differently, then something is up and we would adjust. And of course riding him, if he doesn't feel normal then we adjust the training, look at him physically, have physios look at him. So we're constantly communicating, even though it's not through words, to make sure that he's as ready as much as possible when Rio comes around. 

Does he have any quirky traits?
He's so laid back, you can be just walking around, your feet out of the stirrups, and then something will just set him off out of nowhere and he absolutely cuts into it, as we say. He just goes bucking crazy. And I know it now and can stop it sooner, but when I first got him, it would catch you off guard and you still have to be careful. I never can take my jacket off if I'm on him. You can't wear too baggy clothing in windy conditions because if your clothes or jacket flops, it'll set him off. I'd say that's the quirkiest thing about him. 

What are you most looking forward to in Rio?
On the Olympic side of things, we get to stay in the [Olympic] Village this time. Usually the equestrian site is so far off outside of the city that none of the equestrian athletes do. I think that just seems amazing we get to be a part of it. Other than that, we've trained for years for this one competition. So I'm really looking forward to getting down there and putting in the best performance that we can and hopefully we can win a medal. 

If you have time, what sports would you like to see?
I'm a real fan of all of it. Of course any track and field would be amazing to go see. Swimming would be awesome to go see. I'd be happy to just go to any of it. 

How will you define success in Rio?
A medal. I'd be disappointed if we didn't medal. Team is obviously the focus and then individually secondary. I guess, if I was really honest, if I put forth my best performance that I could do and still didn't medal then I'd still be happy with that -- disappointed that the best performance didn't medal but happy that I did my best performance. 

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