We're just over a year away from the start of theand hundreds of American athletes are competing for a chance to go. One such competitor, Jessica Springsteen, is well-known for another reason: she's daughter.
Springsteen competes in equestrian show jumping, riding galloping horses up to 30 mph that hurdle over 13 jumps as high as six feet and as wide as seven. Each course is designed with challenges like tight turns, triple jump combinations, water obstacles and a time limit, which is usually under 90 seconds.
A clean round paired with the fastest time earns the win — and usually means a trophy and tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.
Springsteen is currently ranked fifth in the nation and hopes to make the Olympic team in 2020. "It's gonna be really tough…" she said. "But one day I think I'll be there."
Equestrian events are one of the only sports in the Olympics in which men and women compete against one another. "I think it's great," Springsteen said. "You see a lot of the top riders are women and men. It's so equal. And it's amazing. And it's always such a surprise to people."
At Rushy Marsh Farm in Wellington, Florida, which Springsteen describes as her "happy place," she trains on six horses a day to help prepare for year-round competition.
She's as much a celebrity in this world as her rock star parents, who cheer her on from the stands. Springsteen said she's not fazed by the transition from "Bruce Springsteen's daughter" to champion rider and Olympic hopeful.
"Growing up in New Jersey, everyone was so used to seeing my parents everywhere," she said. "And especially with riding, when I was so young, I didn't even realize what was going on, I think. And as I've gotten older, it's so normal now."
The preparation for competition is intense. Making a horse jump, for example, requires being "at the right balance, the right side of the fence and the right distance so that they're able to clear it and kind of make their best jump."
It's also a mental sport, she said.
"You're just focused on what you're doing, what the horse is feeling," she said. "And you're really just in sync and kind of in the zone."
She's become "more nervous" as she's gotten older, she added. "You're more aware of what can happen to you. You know, you see your friends have some bad falls. But you have to be confident. You have to be comfortable."
Springsteen won't know for sure if she makes the Olympic team that will head to Tokyo until next year. As for her parents, she says it's "relaxing" for them to watch her compete and she's lucky to have their support and passion for her career.
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