Mon, September 23, 2013

Riders' road to London

By Rod Kelly, QMI Agency


Ian Millar


CALGARY - The selection process used to officially name Team Canada’s showjumping entry for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England has reached what you might call nitty-gritty time.

 

By the time Canada’s five horse and rider combinations are officially announced next month, it’ll have been about a year and a half worth of observation work that was used in the process.

For riders still battling for a spot on the team, realistically, they’ve now reached their last hope to have any sort of impact on who may or may not wear Canadian colours in the July 27-Aug. 12 Games.

“A key date for us is June 17,” said Team Canada’s chef d’equipe, Terrance Millar, who said the selection committee used the recent National tournament at Spruce Meadows and will use next week’s Continental to further observe potential Games competitors.

“June 17 is the last day horses and riders can get certificates of capability. To go to the Olympics now, besides qualifying as a team, your riders have to achieve certificates of capability,” Millar said during a break in competition Saturday afternoon at Spruce Meadows.

“Most of ours have, but there’s still two or three of our horse/rider combinations that are under consideration, and if they don’t get a certificate of capability, you can’t name them.

“So they will be self eliminated.”

Horse/rider combinations could have earned the certification of capability by riding in Saturday night’s Grand Prix at the National with eight faults or less, or they can also do so by competing in next weekend’s Grand Prix with four faults or less.

Millar said the majority of Canada’s leading riders, including Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar, have earned their certification.

“So we work with that June 17 date,” Millar said.

“We use the National, for instance, as an observation show,” he added.

“But our criteria for selection, really, is your results and observation during 2011 and up to the date of selection. That’s all taken into consideration by our committee,” Millar said.

“We just recently did a tour in Europe, so that was very useful to getting a read on some of the horse/rider combinations, their strengths and weakness and then these two shows.

“Then we’ll name a team.”

On Saturday, Millar estimated Canada’s short list of horse/rider combinations was at about eight or nine, which was down considerably from an original list of 23.

And while the results these combinations produce during the Olympic selection timeframe is key to who makes the Canadian lineup, Millar said there are other considerations, as well.

“We’ve found that on the teams where there is good harmony and good personal relationships and good personal support, they always seem to do better than where there is some antagonism.

“I have to say, at the present time, we have a really harmonious group of riders that are all hoping to achieve the same thing.”

rod.kelly@sunmedia.ca