Duderstadt’s Joachim Gilfus is one of Tokyo’s five judges

Für Joachim Geilfus, Richter beim Springreiten, haben die Olympischen Spiele in Tokio erst am Dienstag so richtig begonnen.

Dressage riders started, followed by eventing riders, and show jumping riders are now finishing the Olympic Games in Tokyo. So things are getting serious for Joachim Gilfuss as well. Duderstädter belongs to an international group of five judges who are active not only during jumping competitions.


For the 61-year-old, the day at the facility begins at 8 a.m., even though the tests haven’t been done until the evening. “Because it is very hot during the day, jumping was done in the evening. It’s about 25 degrees, that’s fine. One is the chairman of the Norwegian judging group, with the other three “colleagues” who – like him – are appointed by the World Equestrian Federation, who come from Japan, Canada and Mexico. With the exception of South American, Gilfuss knew all the judges firsthand, after all, he has been one of the Level 4 jurors who have been eligible for the task over the years. He has already participated in three World and European Championships, and Tokyo is his Olympic debut.

“The atmosphere is great even without a spectator,” reports Gilfuss, whose first official assignment last weekend involved testing horses. All the horses in Japan reached top condition, with only two animals having to be reintroduced. But he too got fit after a day. The horses were brought to Japan on a transport plane, and a vet and keeper accompanied the flight. During the flight the animals stand in padded stands. “Horses are not stressed at all – and they have no problems with jet lag,” Gilfuss has said repeatedly over the years. The stables in Tokyo are comfortable. “They are conditioned and the spray mist ensures optimal conditions for the animals.”

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In addition to horse control, each judge is assigned different tasks for training and testing. On Tuesday Gilfuss was in the ditch in qualification, on Wednesday – when the decision about individual medals – he is sitting at the judges’ tower. And all in uniform, it was a duty.

Daily PCR test and fever measurement is also mandatory. All values ​​are documented in an app. Judges are accommodated in a hotel, where they are not allowed to leave the facility. Everything you get to see about Tokyo is located between accommodation and rides a 30-minute bus ride from the stadium, which is located in the city center of the metropolis. “I don’t know if it is because of Covid that we don’t live in the Olympic Village. It’s definitely something special this year.” It also includes a few rules: You eat at the hotel, where he sits with his fellow judges in the evening. “With a glass of water or cola. Due to the pandemic, there is no need for alcohol. Not allowed,” he reports.

Of the 73 starters in qualification, 30 will jump for a medal on Wednesday. The team competition will start from Friday after a day’s break. He relies on the German beginner to do everything and nothing else, it will be exciting in any case. “The nations are so close together. One mistake can be decisive,” says Judge, whom his hobby brings all over the world. He quit active horse riding shortly after starting his studies, with three broken vertebrae. A severe fall made competitive riding impossible.” Judge Lohmann of Göttingen then told me: ‘You will now be a judge.’ Then it’s me,” says Gilfuss, who for professional reasons can no longer ride his horse, which belongs to him and a friend. “But it doesn’t work as well without a horse. My friend’s son is riding the same thing now.”

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