André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Jamaica's lone equestrienne, Olympian Samantha Albert, will be hoping to stage an unlikely comeback in the equestrian competition, as she and her mount Carraig Dubh compete in the cross-country test - the second of the three disciplines that make up Olympic eventing - at Greenwich Park today.
With eight riders left to complete the dressage stage, Albert was sitting at number 61 from 66 riders and needing perfect runs today and during tomorrow's showjumping test.
Albert's story is an interesting one.
Helped on her Olympic journey by triple world-record holder and Olympic champion Usain Bolt, who contributed some signed, custom-made apparel to a fund-raising event that she hosted earlier this year, the 41-year-old is now looking to repay the faith shown in her with a honest effort here in London.
"I haven't actually spoken to him (Bolt) yet," said Albert after her dressage test on Saturday. "He signed three shirts for me and that's how I raised some money to get here, so that was really nice of him.
"It's fantastic. I'm very proud to be representing Jamaica. The atmosphere in the village was great, it's a great team spirit and everyone is behind me and has shown me tremendous support," Albert added.
Born in Canada to a Jamaican mother and an English father, Albert was given the opportunity to ride for Canada, but instead chose to represent the country in which she spent her early years and where she fell in love with the sport; albeit a country that hasn't always shown any appreciation for equestrian sports.
Albert, became the first Jamaican equestrienne Olympian when she competed in 2008 at the Beijing Games and glowed as she spoke about her pride of riding with the Jamaican flag on her coat.
"It's an absolute honour for me to represent Jamaica," Albert told The Gleaner. "It's going to be difficult but anything can happen, all I can do now is go out and do my best and try and make Jamaica proud."
Equestrian team leader Anthony Pasmore still believes that Albert can ride perfect scores in her upcoming disciplines and finish among the top 25 riders, who will feature in a second showjumping round tomorrow afternoon, for medal contention.
"The second phase is the cross-country and she can go clear and get zero penalty and in the showjumping she could have a clear as well," said Pasmore, clinging to fading hope.
"It was a bit tense in parts and so she didn't get as high marks. There were others who were more relaxed and the movement was better, but it was a good test and they do mark very hard in the dressage," he said, while praising Albert's efforts.
Regardless of her finish, Albert has certainly put equestrian sports on the map in Jamaica.