Olympic and World Cup showjumping champion Steve Guerdat has spoken out against the most significant proposal for a new Olympic jumping competition format ahead of Tuesday’s pivotal discussion in Lausanne, Switzerland about the 2020 Agenda.
Most attention has been paid to the controversial changes faced by eventing in order to remain in the Olympic programme, but Guerdat surprised the FEI Sports Forum (4-5 April) by announcing jumping was also making a “big mistake to change something that works”.
The Swiss rider understood that the International Olympic Committee wanted to see “more flags,” meaning representation of more countries, but cautioned against involving teams which were not up to it.
“Involving people who are not able to jump 1.45m is not good for anybody,” he said.
All three Olympic disciplines are under pressure to adopt a team format of three riders with no drop score. Guerdat wanted to retain four riders, and was also against dumbing down of the Nations Cup leg to decide the team medal, following IOC pressure to produce competitions that are more palatable to the small segment culture of TV and livestream.
“Four riders with no drop score is not that difficult to understand,” he said. Regarding the public appeal of the Nations Cup, he observed: “I am seeing packed stadiums in the second round at least of team contests. If TV thinks they are too long, then maybe don’t show it all.”
Guerdat had been invited to the first day of the FEI Sports Forum to discuss the future training of officials. As he could not attend Tuesday’s debate, he grabbed an opportunity before leaving to explain his opposition to Olympic change. “I am speaking from the heart,” he added.
More national federations have now contributed more detailed written responses to the eventing proposals, which are expected to generate the most heated debate. Nearly all of the leading eventing nations are firmly opposed to just three in a team and insist it is a recipe for minimal completions. They would also prefer the FEI to engage branding experts to advise of promoting eventing better as an alternative to changing the sport’s name.
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