Surprise as British Eventing orders ‘performance’ review

Members of Britain’s Olympic silver medal-winning eventing team have expressed surprise that British Eventing (BE) has requested a performance review after London 2012.

BE maintains that the review — which will examine teams from pony to senior level — is “normal business practice”.

It has asked the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) to help, in order to establish whether there are areas that can be improved ahead of Rio in 2016.

“The start of a new Olympic cycle seems to be a good time to have it, to see if there’s anything we can improve for the next Olympics,” said BE board member Nigel Taylor.

“It would be very remiss of us not to see occasionally if there are any areas for improvement. We want to be as successful as the dressage [riders] and showjumpers!”

BE chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith told H&H the performance review was “nothing to do with the London results” and had been agreed well before the Olympics.

Board chairman Amanda Ratcliffe added that the senior team would not be looked at in isolation.

“It’s going to be a reasonable sized piece of work looking at the whole business,” she told H&H.

“We’ve got the performance riders on the pathway that feed into the senior team, so we need to do a holistic review rather than isolate certain aspects,” she said.

But one member of the London team has told H&H she feels “insulted” that their performance is being questioned.

H&H columnist Tina Cook said she learnt about the review from the team manager.

Yogi Breisner had to ring us all up to say this is being done. My initial feeling was that I was insulted and quite angry,” said Tina.

“The fact they [BE] are looking into why we didn’t perform to the same standard as the dressage and the showjumpers — it’s not like we underperformed. Many of the team-mates performed their personal best.

“We worked incredibly hard; we did not go there as favourites but we ran very close to taking the gold off the Germans,” she added.

Tina’s team-mate Nicola Wilson reiterated that Team GBR had not gone into London 2012 as favourites.

“Last year we got bronze at the Europeans and this year at the Olympics we won silver.

“Everybody put in their best and that’s what we came away with,” she said.

Tina added: “We all need to up our game and look in a professional manner at how we can all do better — and I support that.”

Mary King said she would prefer not to comment at this stage.

The performance review, which will involve team riders, vets, physiotherapists and doctors, is due to be concluded in the spring.

BE chairman Amanda Ratcliffe added: “I want to make sure we do a thorough job and get the right answers.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (29 November 2012)