Rio Olympics: Meet Scott Keach, The Remarkable Olympian Whose Last Olympics Was 28 Years Ago

08/05/2016 4:32 PM AEST | Updated 09/05/2016 10:19 AM AEST
Bob Martin via Getty Images
Sep 1988: Scott Keach of Australia falls from his mount Trade Commission and into the water during the Cross Country section of the Three Day Event Competition at the 1988 Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea. Mandatory Credit: Bob Martin/Allsport

Scott Keach is an Australian Olympian with a story like no other.

Keach, an equestrian, will compete in showjumping at the upcoming Rio Olympics. He has competed in one Olympics previously. That was Seoul 1988, where he competed in eventing, which is the cross-country equestrian event. Repeat. It is 28 years since this Olympian last saddled up under the five rings.

It's eight Australian Prime Ministers (if you count Kevin Rudd twice) since Scott Keach last competed at an Olympics. When Scott Keach last competed at an Olympics, Sweet Child of Mine and Don't Worry Be Happy topped the music charts. He was 23 then. He's 51 now.

Why so long between drinks? And what's he been doing all this time? The Huffington Post Australia caught up with Scott to ask him these and other important questions.

scott keach equestrian

That's dual Olympian and Rio team Captain Edwina Tops-Alexander along with equestrians Julia Hargreaves, Jamie Kermond and Scott Keach on the right.

Ant: Hi Scott. We start by asking every sportsperson this for reasons which are unclear even to us. Who would win a fight between a kangaroo and an emu?

Scott: I'd go the roo. Big back seat, mate. Big toenails, too.

Ant: What about a fight between an equestrian horse and a thoroughbred racehorse?

Scott: The stallion. No matter what the breed, the stallion would win.

Ant: OK, last frivolous question for at least the next minute or so. What's the only sport where a participant has the same title as the sport itself?

Scott: Is that what I do?

Ant: It is! That's one of my favourite sports trivia questions.

Scott: It's a bit out of left field but fair enough.

Ant: Let's go back to Seoul. What do you remember about those long gone almost ancient Olympics?

Scott: Well I remember I was just a young bloke living in South Australia and you didn't have social media so it took a long time for people to find out I had been selected. These days the Australian Olympic Committee makes a bit more of a deal of it and a lot more people knew in a very short time.

Ant: What about the '88 Olympics themselves? What were they like?

Scott: I remember going to the track and field watching Flo-Jo and Ben Johnson win the men's and women's 100 metres.

Ant: Wow, you were actually there. And of course Johnson was later stripped of his medals for drug cheating, while FloJo died in 1998 with a huge cloud over alleged drug use, but of course you had no idea at the time.

Scott: That's right, we had no idea. I mean the Ben Johnson thing came up a lot quicker so he lost his gold medal in Korea.

Ant: Any other memories?

Scott: I remember in the Olympic village each country would have a flag raising ceremony. They usually did two countries at a time and we did it with the East Germans. We were we all in bright yellow and they were in grey.

Ant: And that was the last time East Germany competed as a separate team.

Scott: It was, because the Berlin Wall came down soon afterwards so that was a unique little piece of history.

Ant: What about your own sporting performance in Seoul? I looked you up in our image system and all the pics from '88 were of you falling off your horse, who I believe was called Trade Commissioner. What happened?

Scott: It was the second water jump [in the teams event] and I went the straight through route which is more difficult. My horse landed very awkwardly. A clear round would have been a pretty decent performance, but we we finished 5th.

Ant: You switched from eventing to showjumping. Why?

Scott: I used to showjump a bit when I was quite young, but I changed over seriously about four years ago. In addition to competing I also do some teaching in America where I'm based now.

Ant: Where are you based in America?

Scott: We're on 26 acres near Ocala in Florida, which is a real horse centre. Typical of Americans, if they have something prominent, they call it the "capital of the world". But there are miles and miles of horse properties here.

Ant: And you're both a coach and a participant in the sport of equestrian.

Scott: Yeah I'm training an American girl who just made the American eventing team for Rio.

Ant: Congrats. Pity you're in a different discipline now so you won't go head to head. Master versus pupil. That would be cool. So what are your goals for Rio? Are you a realistic medal chance?

Scott: The first goal is is to make the individual final. From there anything can happen, It's so incredibly competitive that anyone who finishes in the top ten has put in a really good performance.

Ant: Tell us about your horse Fedor, who I understand you bought in Belgium. Does he speak French or Flemish?

Scott: He's from the French part of Belgium so definitely French. He's a bay gelding who is very good natured and has a very good competition mind. He also has a lot of ability to jump big jumps which is handy because there are always big jumps at the Olympic Games.

Ant: With his jumping ability and your experience, we reckon you two might spring a surprise or two in Rio. Thanks for talking to the Huffington Post Australia, Scott

Scott: Thanks.

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