Riders Believe Sumo Wrestler Statue May Have Spooked Horses During Olympic Qualifier

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2021

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Luciana Diniz of Team Portugal riding Vertigo Du Desert competes during the Jumping Individual Qualifier on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Equestrian Park on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Naomi Baker/Getty Images

In an unusual twist, scenery may have adversely impacted Tuesday's equestrian event at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The Associated Press' Jake Seiner reported some of the riders complained about a statue of a sumo wrestler situated next to the 10th obstacle. 

Great Britain's Harry Charles told Seiner he saw "four or five horses really taking a spook to that." Israel's Teddy Vlock described the statue as "very realistic" and "looking like he's ready to fight you."

According to Seiner, multiple horses pulled up while approaching the jump, which resulted in penalties to the riders' scores that kept them from qualifying for the finals.

Penelope Leprevost of France was perhaps one of the more notable casualties. 

The 41-year-old helped her country win gold in team jumping at the 2016 Summer Olympics and is a two-time team jumping silver medalist in the World Show Jumping Championships. Leprevost failed to advance out of the qualifier after she collected 10 penalties and tied for 52nd.

Jessica Springsteen, daughter of legendary musicians Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, was also eliminated in qualifying.