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How do horses get to the Games?

Charlotte Dujardin’s two dressage bronzes in Tokyo have made her Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. But how did her 10-year-old chestnut mount, Gio, travel the 5,713 miles to Japan? Weeks ago he boarded one of a series of special transfer flights with the other horses on the British equestrian team – including Everdale, En Vogue, Sintano Van Hof Olympia, London 52, Toledo de Kerser, Ballaghmor Class and Brookfield Inocent.

Each horse receives a passport at birth, detailing its size, health and markings. say Jessica Bateman and Michael Potts in Radio Times. Once this has been inspected, the animal is lifted into the plane in a stall with another horse (nervous “flyers” are not paired up). Instead of regular cabin crew, there are at least 11 grooms and vets, with water buckets, rugs and other kit. The horses stay standing up for the journey, so take-off is more gradual and there’s no sudden deceleration on landing. In between, they chew “haylage”, a high-moisture feed, to counteract cabin pressurisation and dehydration. They sleep standing up, thanks to their “stifle” (an ability to lock out their hind legs), and nap whenever they can. Do horses get jet lag? No one seems sure.

🚴🏾‍♂️ 🥈 🥳 BMX cyclist Kye Whyte today became the first Brit to win an Olympic medal in the sport. How did his father feel while watching? “Turbulent. Amazing. Speechless. Everything.” said Nigel Whyte on Radio 4’s Today. The family started a BMX club in Peckham, south London, in 2004 – with no money whatsoever. It was just one track, says Nigel. Kye’s mother sewed his name into old shirts for competitions. “Everyone just laughed, but you know what, they ain’t laughing now.” Kye missed out on a gold medal by 0.114 seconds – is that not a little frustrating? Absolutely not, says his father. “Silver’s great, come on!

Listen to the interview here, from 1:09:06.

Cheats never prosper – except in football

Bob Thomas Sports Photography

Some instances of cheating in sport “have a comic aspect”, says John Lanchester in the London Review of Books. Take Maurice Garin, who was stripped of his 1904 Tour de France victory because he had resorted to the “wonderfully simple and direct expedient of taking a train”. Other kinds of cheating go to the heart of a sport’s ethos. When it comes to feigning injury or simulating a foul, rugby union thinks of itself as “the opposite of football”. As Nigella Lawson puts it: ‘I prefer soccer to rugger. I feel rugby shows men how they like to see themselves – noble warriors, primitive god-monsters – whereas soccer shows men as women see them: competitive, full of greedy ego and with that mummy-watch-me-jump need to impress.”

Rugby fans would doubtless agree that cheats prosper in football, having watched England forward Raheem Sterling’s “award-winning dive” to earn a crucial penalty in the Euros semi-final against Denmark. Indeed, football’s “most famous incidence of cheating”, Maradona’s “Hand of God” at the 1986 World Cup, is still celebrated on highlight reels shown by Argentina’s national football association. Rugby players feign health instead of injury. Yet this has arguably contributed to the sport’s chronic brain-injury problem. In 2017 the Lions’ current captain, Alun Wyn Jones, was knocked out in a match against New Zealand, but because “men will be men”, he was allowed to return to the field. It should have been a huge scandal, but was “shrugged off as men-will-be-men, concussion be damned”.