It is a huge challenge. The task is to turn the gigantic Chinese national stadium, the “Bird’s Nest”, into one of the most impressive equestrian sport arenas in the world – within the shortest time possible.
“1 National Stadium South Road, Beijing” is what you have to put into the GPS device to reach the “Bird’s Nest”. The dimensions of the stadium planned by the architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, are enormous: It holds 80,000 spectators. The impressive images of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games are still very much in mind. Just a few metres away from the stables, the names of the Olympic winners are engraved into the “Olympic Wall”. The show jumper, Eric Lamaze, is listed among them alongside the Dutch dressage queen Anky van Grunsven and Germany’s eventing legend Hinrich Romeike. Thursday morning isn’t actually drawing to a slow close in the stadium on the track, where eleven years ago the Jamaican athlete, Usain Bolt, became the fastest man on earth, either. Perimeters are being mounted on the edge of the jumping arena, the sand flooring is being raked, workers are assembling the exhibition area and on the other side of the stadium one can watch the first horses practising inside the stadium.
Logistically speaking, it is a masterstroke: Just a few days ago a huge stage was erected in the national stadium for a rock concert. Whilst this is still being dismantled on one side of the stadium, everything is already being put into place on the other side for the “9th Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters”. Everything will be ready on time tomorrow, when not only more than 300 of the best Chinese riders, but also ten top international riders get ready to compete. The concept of the show is unique. The aim is to learn from each other, the international riders Ludger Beerbaum has gathered together aim to help sustainably further develop the sport in China.
The show gets underway at lunchtime tomorrow, all information on the participants and the results can be found here: longinestiming.com