Equestrian: Karim Laghouag, the medal that nobody expected

Tuesday, 3 august 2021

An incredible talent, combined with an unexpected turn of events, enabled Karim Laghouag, supported by Banque Populaire Val de France*, to win the bronze medal in the equestrian team eventing competition.

She unexpected competitor…  

This year, Club France in Tokyo – the temporary French sporting embassy housed on the campus of Tokyo university – has none of the festive atmosphere typical of the Club France venues organized for the previous Rio or London Olympics. Despite this more subdued ambiance, Karim Laghouag should manage to shake things up a bit! He’s expected there along with the entire eventing team, and their fine bronze medal. Karim Laghouag can’t stop smiling. To start with, his is a naturally sunny disposition… but when you consider his miraculous path to these Tokyo games, you can understand his elation! “I’m in Disneyland,” he keeps saying. “I’m so happy to be here…”

Of course, just one month ago, it would never have crossed his mind that he’d be competing in Tokyo. He was the 3rd substitute in the eventing team when Astier Nicolas, gold medalist in Rio, withdrew, followed by Thibaud Valette on July 9 just a few days before he was due to leave for Tokyo owing to a problem with his horse. Shortly afterwards, Thomas Carlile, who was already in Japan, decided with immense regret to withdraw on July 26, also owing to a health problem with his horse. Karim Laghouag had travelled to Tokyo as a substitute when the head coach Thierry Touzaint, who was already responsible for the French eventing team in Rio, came to announce that he was counting on him to compete… and was placing so much faith in Karim that he had him start last in the cross-country phase of the competition.

A superb cross-country performance  

At that point in time, very few people still believed that the French had any chance of success in the eventing competition. Their performance in the dressage phase (the first out of three) was most unpropitious. But the cross-country part of the competition is the forte of the French team. Already in Rio four years ago, Karim Laghouag and his teammates had scaled the rankings thanks to the cross-country phase. This time they rose from 9th to 3rd place thanks to the outstanding performance achieved by Karim Laghouag. “My horse was in good shape at the right moment and, as far as I was concerned, I didn’t feel stressed at all because I hadn’t expecting to be competing. I just wanted to do well,” he explained.

Unfortunately, he committed a single fault on the triple bar in the show jumping phase, which – luckily – didn’t affect the bronze medal. This is the second consecutive medal for the French rider. It’s now up to him to repeat his performance in three years’ time with his horse Triton Fontaine, which, by then, will have made even more progress with Karim Laghouag in the saddle, a rider who has written once again, along with the French Eventing Team, a fine page in the history of French equestrian success!

Well done, Karim!

* Via the Performance Pact

*via le Pacte de performance.