New Zealand is on track to have all three disciplines represented at the 2020 Olympic Games with the news dressage has now qualified an individual spot.
If successful, it will be the first time New Zealand will have done so since 2004 in Athens, and just the third time ever. Eventing and showjumping have both qualified teams for the Tokyo Games and the dressage individual spot on the back of Wendi Williamson topping the Group G rankings aboard Don Amour MH. The combination recently won the FEI World Cup Pacific League Final, earning the right to ride at the world final in Las Vegas in April.
Dressage New Zealand sport manager Wendy Hamerton said the Kumeu rider had made a huge personal commitment to earn the spot for New Zealand with three trips across the Tasman to compete at CDI competitions last year and more to come.
“She fended off other Group G riders who were based in Europe, which is quite something,” said Wendy. There are a handful of New Zealand riders who will be chasing Olympic qualifications at CDI competitions on both sides of the Tasman in the coming months.
No combination for any discipline has yet been selected and all will need to meet ESNZ and New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) criteria. That means capable of achieving a top 16 placing at the Games, with the potential to win an Olympic Diploma (top eight placing), with strict criteria around each individual horse and rider. NZOC are required to confirm the acceptance of the team quota spots by February 3 with the FEI with confirmation of the individual quota spots by February 17. Selections will be made in early June and final combinations named thereafter. The Games run July 24-August 9 in Tokyo.
New Zealand has only been represented by the three disciplines twice – 2004 in Athens and 2000 in Sydney. The nation was first represented in equestrian in Rome in 1960 by showjumper Adrian White aboard Telebrae and they finished in 23rd spot.
Since then Kiwi equestrians have competed at 12 Games – showjumping at 10, eventing at nine and dressage at four. Eventing are the stars when it comes to medals with Sir Mark Todd and the mighty Charisma bagging our first, an individual gold in 1984, followed by another at Seoul in 1988 when they went back-to-back and the team also secured a bronze.
In Barcelona in 1992 Blyth Tait picked up an individual bronze with the team taking silver. Atlanta in 1996 was another happy hunting ground for Blyth who won the individual gold, Sally Clark the silver and the team a bronze. London in 2012 broke the drought when the team won another bronze.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison