Olympic gold medalist Jessica von Bredow-Werndl reflects on the “mental toolbox” that allowed her to overcome the “fear of mistakes” she says visited her door daily.
J. Von Bredow-Werndl Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Olympic gold medalist and European triple gold medalist Jessica von Bredow-Werndl had a banner year in 2021.
The German rider was unbeatable atop the Trakehner mare TSF Dalera BB, first helping her team win gold at the Tokyo Olympics and then taking home the honour for herself.
Approximately two months later, on home turf in Hagen, Germany for the European Championships, she won gold for both the team and as an individual.
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Jessica was no Stranger to Competition;
She had been a mainstay of the German national team for years, formerly riding the Gribaldi stallion Unee BB, but this was her first Olympic Games.
She and Dalera were the early 2021 European show circuit favourites, and if they could find a way to defeat Isabell Werth and Bella Rose in Japan, they would take home the gold.
In episode 86 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, Jessica told H&H dressage editor Polly Bryan, “I knew I had the possibility to win [gold] but I didn’t anticipate it.”
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“Dalera was incredible; she put forth a lot of effort for me and always made me feel like things were going to be okay. In fact, it read like a fairy tale.
Olympic Gold Medalist Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl
An exciting individual final took place in Tokyo, with Jessica setting a lofty goal of 91.73 percent before her closest challenger, fellow countrywoman Isabell, entered the stadium.
After seeing Isabell’s score of 89.6% flash up on the screen, Jessica realised that she was still in first place with just two riders to go.
“I remember the feeling when I realised that I could be individual Olympic champion, even though it wasn’t sure yet, and that feeling was so emotional,” she said.
It Blew My Mind.
She went on to say that she was taken aback by the intensity of her reaction and that it had made her realise how badly she desired the outcome.
Every time I felt like giving up, I reminded myself, “You can’t do more than giving your best,” but that feeling when you realise you actually might be able to accomplish something you’ve been working for is indescribable.
There was a lot of tension building up inside of me, and then suddenly it all released.
Jessica acknowledged that she was under a great deal of pressure in the lead-up to the Games, though she believed that this stress was caused more by her own high expectations of herself than by anyone else.
We can only do our best, and I told myself that Dalera probably doesn’t know the difference between the German championships and the Olympics anyway. However, insecurity about my abilities constantly rang my doorbell.
Having won past championships and accumulated several years of experience at the highest level allowed me to adequately prepare for this one. Meditation and various breathing exercises are only two of the many mental tools I’ve amassed over the years.
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“It helps me deal with the Pressure, but also the dread of Making Mistakes,” she added.
“On the one side, to make mistakes is really normal, but on the other hand, it’s foolish if it happens [during an Olympics].
Additionally, Jessica disclosed that the dressage editor at H&H made a remark in an article that had a significant impact on her attitude about the Olympics.
For the first time, I was confronted by this topic when I saw that line [implying she could become the next Olympic champion] and thought, “Wow, there are people who actually feel it’s conceivable.” “I read that, and it really moved me and was a great incentive for me,” Jessica added.