A former student’s journey to the Tokyo Olympics

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Lisa Borzynski DVM’93 at the 2020 Summer Olympics (delayed to summer 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic) in Tokyo, Japan, where she served as an equestrian veterinarian.

In July Lisa Borzynski, a 1993 DVM graduate from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, traveled to Tokyo, Japan as the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) veterinarian for the events. Equestrian Games of the Tokyo Olympics. Originally scheduled for summer 2020, the Games were delayed after the coronavirus brought international events to a screeching halt.

Borzynski currently works at the Wisconsin Equine Clinic in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, a primary care and referral center for horses. She focuses on the medicine of sport horses. His previous involvement with the Fédération Equestre Internationale, or Fédération Internationale des Sports Equestres, led to an invitation to join the 2020 Olympic veterinary team. The Fédération Equestre Internationale is the international governing body for equestrian sports and oversees veterinarians working during the events. FEI events.

Germany's Andre Thieme, riding DSP Chakaria, competes in the equestrian show jumping team qualification at Tokyo Equestrian Park at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Friday August 6, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan
Germany’s Andre Thieme, riding DSP Chakaria, competes in the show jumping team qualification at the 2020 Summer Olympics on August 6, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP / Carolyn Kaster)

Borzynski, along with around 20 other FEI vets, looked after and monitored the health and well-being of the Olympic competitors throughout their preparation and events. As soon as the horses arrived, the team went through a sanitary and logistical checklist. Not only did they examine each horse for signs of contagious diseases, but also for their equine passports, an FEI requirement.

“We are checking temperatures, pulse and breathing,” Borzynski said during a webinar in October hosted by the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association, where she shared her experience of the Olympics. “We are looking for any cough, runny nose – anything that could be contagious. We have very strict biosecurity rules. They are required to get the flu shot, so we need to check that out. We make sure they don’t look worse from their trip. And that’s only the finish exam before you even start the competition.

Throughout training and competitions, Borzynski and the other vets watched over the horses, many of whom were teenagers and had already competed in several Olympics. Borzynski stressed the importance of watching for signs of overheating, fatigue or injury before, during and after an event to ensure animal welfare. They even had access to thermographic cameras to quickly measure a horse’s body temperature, a vital technology in the midst of the hottest summer months.

Spaniard Fendi T, ridden by Severo Jurado Lopez, is shown inspecting horses for the equestrian dressage competition at the Equestrian Park of the 2020 Summer Olympics on Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan .  (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)
Spaniard Fendi T, ridden by Severo Jurado Lopez, is shown inspecting horses for the equestrian dressage competition at the Tokyo Olympics. (AP / Carolyn Kaster)

“Every time the horses were out, we were there. So we were right next to all the best horses in the world, ”Borzynski said.

“Before they start competing, we race them to make sure they’re strong enough to compete. The chief veterinary delegate would lead the process, looking for swollen tendons or ligament injuries, ”she added. “We also watch them throughout the competition. In eventing, we see them throughout dressage, in their cross country warm-ups, and we had veterinarians on each cross-country jump. Then they have to jog again before the show jumping.

Horses and vets were pleased with the facilities and equipment provided by Japanese Olympic Games officials. The equestrian park, Baji Koen, spans 45 acres in the heart of Tokyo, with eight new air-conditioned barns. The grazing areas offered the competitors a well-deserved resting place.

Borzynski stands in the middle of part of the Tokyo Olympic Games Equestrian Park, Baji Koen, which spans 45 acres
Borzynski stands in the middle of part of the Tokyo Olympics Equestrian Park, which spans 45 acres.

“The horses were very, very happy,” Borzynski recalls. “They were happy outside; they were happy in the barns. Probably the most satisfied horses I have seen at any type of horse show.

Participants expressed concerns about the chances of cancellation amid global tensions over COVID-19. Yet the Games continued. Every sport had a “bubble,” as Borzynski called it, which meant they couldn’t interact with teams and individuals competing in other Olympic competitions. It limited the true Olympic experience somewhat, but it was exciting for her and the other vets nonetheless.

Australian Mary Hanna, riding Calanta, competes in the Dressage Grand Prix competition at the Equestrian Park of the 2020 Summer Olympics on Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.  (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)
Australian Mary Hanna, riding Calanta, competes in the Dressage Grand Prix competition at the equestrian park at the Tokyo Olympics on July 24, 2021. (AP / Carolyn Kaster)

“We were very lucky to have Tokyo 2020, even though it took place in 2021,” Borzynski said. “There was a lot of talk until the week before whether this was going to happen or not. So we were all very, very grateful and grateful that we were able to do it.

No one was allowed to attend the official opening and closing ceremonies because of COVID, but the equestrian “bubble” celebrated their trip to Tokyo in their own way. They were able to watch the fireworks from their hotel room window, commemorating their participation in the 2020 Olympics.

Throughout his time there, Borzynski treasured the memories created with the horses and the people behind them. A sense of international cooperation and a community spirit resided in him long after his return to the United States.

Alisyn Lover


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