Brazil’s Olympic and world champion Rodrigo Pessoa has taken over as Ireland’s new showjumping chef d’equipe.
Rodrigo, 44, has been appointed to the role of senior high performance director of the Irish showjumping team and takes over the team manager reins from Robert Splaine, whose contract ended on 31 December last year after 11 years in the job.
“I am looking forward to working with this very talented group of riders and horses in the near future,” Rodrigo said. “At the end of August we have the European Championships in Sweden where we want to have a strong team ready to battle for top positions.
“I want to thank Horse Sport Ireland for giving me this opportunity and hope that we will be successful together.”
Gerry Mullins, Chairman of the Horse Sport Ireland senior show jumping high performance committee added: “On behalf of the HSI senior show jumping high performance committee, I welcome the appointment of Rodrigo Pessoa and I hope it augurs well for Team Ireland in our bid to qualify a team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
Rodrigo, son of the legendary Nelson Pessoa, has won three Olympic medals and is best known for his partnership with the great stallion Baloubet Du Rouet, with whom he won three World Cups in a row.
He has been a trainer to many riders and brings an impressive CV to his new job. He was previously elected by his fellow riders as athlete representative on the FEI jumping committee and is a former president of the International Jumping Riders Club.
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Ireland has failed to qualify a team for the past three Olympic Games, although individual rider Cian O’Connor won a bronze medal in London 2012.
Ireland’s showjumpers have enjoyed recent success in USA, where strong Nations Cups teams have triumphed twice on the trot.