Australian-born U.S. eventer Boyd Martin is set to make his second Olympic appearance at the 2016 Rio Games. Boyd Martin sat down with NBCOlympics.com at the Riverdale Stables in the Bronx, Ny., to discuss training, his partnership with Blackfoot Mystery, and how he will define success in Rio.
Now that you’ve made the U.S. Olympic team, has your training or preparation for Rio changed at all?
I think everything is a lot more real. Now you know you're going for sure. Everything's been intensified a little bit and suddenly you start to zero in on what makes a good performance and everything is now headed towards that one moment.
What are you doing to stay mentally and physically fit leading up to the Games?
Physically, for this event I'd probably try to lose a fair bit of weight. I'd do that just by changing my diet. Our sport is a little bit different than other sports, you [can] get away with drinking a beer or eating a hotdog. The beer and hotdogs are now on hold. Also, I've had a lot of injuries over the years so I work with a personal trainer and physiotherapist to make sure I'm in top shape. Mentally, I love it. This is what I was born for and now I get better in these situations I think.
Are you doing anything differently with [your horse and partner] Blackfoot Mystery?
I get the feeling the horse knows. Don't ask me how! All of a sudden there's a bit more tension. He's getting massaged multiple times a week. The blacksmith is taking extra time trimming his feet. The trainings becoming more focused. I get the feeling that Big Red knows something else is in store. He's risen to the occasion. He's lifted and worked and I get the feeling that we're in a good place. He's stepping it up too.
What does your daily schedule look like right now?
The good thing with me is that I have a lot of work. Basically, I work seven days a week, there's no days off. I train all day every day and definitely there's a section of the day now that's primarily blocked off for Blackfoot Mystery and his training. In the past, I've tried to back off my workload but that actually sends me a bit crazy not having anything to do but I'm better staying busy and occupied and not having too much spare time.
What makes the Olympics so much different than any other competition?
It's the one competition in the world where every top horse and rider are at one show. Usually it's hard to get the Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, French, English, Americans, all together in one spot. So it's a real best-of-the-best championship. Secondly, I think it's in a remote area so no one's got the home court advantage. And it's the one championship that everyone wants. It's the one gold medal. you go anywhere in the world and you won a gold medal, it changes your life.
What is it like to compete with a partner that can’t always talk back to you?
You spend so much time with them it's hard to put into words. This is your partner, your best friend, your work mate, your teammate. It's a tough one because obviously you can't really talk to each other but I know how he feels and he knows how I feel. You know when he's trying, he knows when you're trying. It's fun to relax together. It's a hard thing to put into words but it's a different partnership or bond like none other.
Do you have any advice for your teammates who are going to the Olympics for the first time?
Clark [Montgomery] and Lauren [Kieffer] are both tough competitors. They're seasoned. I think that'll be just fine. It's an event like no other, there's added pressure, you don't have any control over what's going to happen. If you allow yourself, you can let that drive you crazy. But we've got a very good coach in David O'Conner who is sort of the mastermind of the team and our captain is Phillip [Dutton] and this is his sixth Olympics and he's sort of the Godfather of the team, so to speak. So I think it'll be smooth sailing for the U.S. team.
Do you have a favorite part of the Olympic eventing competition?
The only thing that makes me nervous is not being able to produce what I'm capable of and that pressure's added at the Olympics because you're competing for the country and everyone's watching for you to pull it off. For me that's the only pressure I feel is making sure that I can execute on the day.
How will you define success in Rio?
Unless an absolute personal best performance, it's a lonely trip home and if you feel like you could've done better in anything, that's what hurts. And there's times where it's just a lonely place sometimes where you've, where it's just you laying in bed at night and it's one of those events where if you don't come up with what you're capable of, it haunts you and for me that's the biggest motivating factor is that, here in the moment we're training and getting ready for it. You can't feel like you could've tried harder. No stone can be left unturned when you're training or in preparation and then execute the performance and you can live with that.
Unless an absolute personal best performance, it's a lonely trip home and if you feel like you've -- if you could've done better in anything, that's what hurts. And there's times where it's just a lonely place sometimes where you've, where it's just you laying in bed at night and it's one of those events where if you don't come up with what you're capable of, it haunts you and for me that's the biggest motivating factor is that, here in the moment we're training and getting ready for it. you can't feel like you could've tried harder. No stone can be left unturned when you're training or in preparation and then execute the performance and you can live with that.
If you could watch any other Olympic sport in Rio, what would you watch?
Boxing! I love boxing!