Tough targets for Olympic riders

  • Britain’s elite riders were left in no doubt as to what is required atthe next Olympics after a “Road to Athens” presentation at a three-day workshop at Hartpury College last week.

    “Medals, that’s what it’s about,” said the British Olympic Association’s chef de mission Simon Clegg. “Medals is how the country will judge you. Dressage and show jumping have underperformed and eventing is still chasing that elusive gold. But I believe you can deliver and, for the future of your sports, you have to.”

    Liz Nichol of UK Sport revealed that equestrianism is one of six “Priority 2” sports within UK Sport and is the second highest funded sport in that group. However, the level of funding for dressage and show jumping is being reviewed and a decision is due by 10 March.

    “Eventing is on target, but we do have concerns about dressage and show jumping,” warned Ms Nichol. “Sports can be dropped from the World Class Performance Plan due to underperformance, but they can also get back on again, like men’s gymnastics did.”

    Eventing’s targetfor Athens is at least team bronze and an individual silver, the result achieved at the WEG last year.

    Britain’s highly successful Paralympic team is charged with winning team gold, two individual golds and two individual silvers.

    The aim is for Britain to be in the world’s top five sporting countries by 2012. The goal for Athens is to finish in the top ten in the medal table and first in the Paralympic table.

    The presentation ended with a fiercely motivating speech from former Olympic athlete turned coach Mike Macfarlane.

    “You must have a plan over the winter. Athens will be 90øC with humidity and you need to be in shape. Don’t think: ‘I’m a rider, I don’t need to be fit.’ Fail to prepare, fail to perform. Andif you fail to perform, your Lottery funding will be cut.”

    Read the complete article in this week’s Horse & Hound (6 March), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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