Friday, March 19, 2010

Athina and the Olympics

Ten years ago when the international celebrity media claimed that Athina was gearing up for the Olympic Games, it was based on fantasy rather than reality. The fact is, they hoped for the incredible story that would materialize if Athina reclaimed her Onassis heritage and represented Greece in Athens at the 2004 Summer Games. When that didn't happen, and the media had to settle for Athina's attendance to watch her boyfriend compete for Brazil, a glimmer of hope remained that she might be ready for 2008. Unfortunately, she wasn't, but she did seem to be on the right course. She was, after all, jumping fences up to 1m45. She had, since marrying Doda at the end of 2005, joined the Greek training team Avlona, shed the Roussel name, and refashioned herself as Athina Onassis de Miranda. She was a new woman - slimmer, blonder, and, seemingly, blissfully in love. She was not only a serious contender for Grand Prix level jumping; she was a major player in the sport horse breeding business. She bought world champion horses that cost several million dollars. She socialized with equestrian 'it' people like Jan Tops, the Pessoas, and Edwina Alexander. Through the course of 2009, she mastered relationships with her top-three partners: Uceline, Ricardo, and Welcome. Welcome was obviously a winning ticket from the word go, and Uceline, the youngest, was promising on the 1m25-35 jumps. Ricardo entered the top three to replace Babouche. Born in 1998, he is a year older than Welcome and therefore is the perfect age to be doing Grand Prix level jumping. At the jumping of Nantes this year, Ricardo and Welcome took Athina over 1m50 jumps for the first time and the results were impressive! With Welcome, she ranked #16/48 for the Prix Region Pays de la Loire. Her prize was 400 euros. Despite that they knocked over two obstacles, it was a brilliant start to her Grand Prix career. The Nantes jumping overlapped onto her birthday, January 29, on which she and Welcome achieved 5th place (over 1m40 jumps) in the Prix Haras de Granlieu, adding 175 euros to her famously bulging bank account. With Ricardo, she tackled the 1m50 jumps for the Prix Conseil Generale de Loire Atlantique. Her rank was a modest 32/50 and she took five faults, but still, it's quite a start. On the last day of competition, Athina and Ricardo tackled the 1m50 jumps again for the Grand Prix de la Ville de Nantes. Again, they took five hits and a modest rank. Athina traveled southeast to Villeneuve-Loubet near Monaco and competed for the first time on her new superhorse, Tomboy. With Tomboy, winner of the World Cup qualifier in London, Athina is poised to think very seriously about the Olympic Games of 2012. London calling!

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