TINA Cook might have been there, done it and got the t-shirt during her illustrious career, but the Findon eventer is taking nothing for granted in her bid for London 2012 Olympic glory.
Cook has never been too far away from the podium over the past two decades of her career, winning four European titles, two world crowns and two bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
However, the 40-year-old has hit a bump in the road this year with her Olympic-medal winning horse, Miners Frolic, battling for survival in July, having been laid low with colitis, which is a poisoning of the gut.
That has ruled Cook, who only rode at the Beijing Olympics after late drop-outs from both Zara Phillips and Lucy Wiegersma, out of a defence of her European individual and team titles later this year.
Cook is hopeful Miners Frolic will make a full recovery, though, and return to competition, but with that in mind she knows her place at the London 2012 Olympics is far from guaranteed.
Cook said: “I very much hope to be selected for the Olympics, it’s not a foregone conclusion from one year to another in our sport, so both the horse and rider have to be on form at the right time.
“I really thought I was going to lose Miners Frolic with what has happened, but he has proved himself a fighter and he is still with us against the odds.
“Things are starting to look more optimistic now and with any luck we will be able to build him up to full fitness for a return to eventing early next season.
“I would say that I am on the outskirts of the British team, but I’m hoping the fact that I’m the reigning European individual champion means, if I can pull out some good results, I can be back on track again.
“But I am not about to think I am set to go because I have been before, and I will make sure I am doing my best week in, week out, right up until the team is announced.”
Cook won both team and individual bronze medals at Beijing, finishing ahead of four other British eventers.
And with the opportunity to repeat the trick on home soil less than a year away, Cook is desperate to play her part.
She added: “I have been to the Olympic venue at Greenwich Park as a member of the public and looked around the venue. It’s going to be fast and furious and very exciting. I think it’s always easy for the public to look at the equestrian and see it as an elitist sport with men and women competing, but it really isn’t like that.”
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