Equestrian: Andrew Nicholson out of Olympics

By David Leggat

Andrew Nicholson. Photo / File.
Andrew Nicholson. Photo / File.

It was increasingly unlikely, but now it's been confirmed - champion eventing rider Andrew Nicholson won't be competing at his seventh Olympics in Rio in August.

Nicholson has been at loggerheads with Equestrian Sport New Zealand over an incident at the world games in Normandy in 2014. That put him on the outer with the national body, plus he suffered a nasty fall and spine injury riding at the Gatcombe trials last year.

Nicholson, who was aiming to attend his seventh Olympics, withdrew from the Badminton four star event last month, which appeared to signal he would not be in contention for Olympic selection.

However, ESNZ has now deemed him non-selectable, in the words of eventing high performance coach Erik Duvander.

"The information I have had is he is not selectable," Duvander said today.

"It is unfortunate. You always want your best riders in the team (but) when other riders are performing it's not a given he would have been selected anyway."

Listen: Andrew Nicholson on not being selected for the Olympics

Nicholson was part of the New Zealand team which won bronze in London four years ago. He has been a former world No 1 and is among the most successful riders in the world over many years.

He said today there had been no thawing in his rocky relationship with ESNZ - "not at all. I've had no feedback whatsoever" - but the 54-year-old insists he won't take extra motivation into future four star events to prove a point to New Zealand officials.

"It will be more for myself, my family and the people who support me," he said.

"I'll just focus on things in my own little team, and the people who have stuck with me and appreciate me for what I am."

Listen: Eventing high performance coach Erik Duvander

Relations have been bad between the sports' New Zealand governing body and Nicholson since an incident at the worlds two years ago. Nicholson took exception to the handling horse Nereo by support staff after a demanding cross country phase.

Attempts to reach a rapprochement between the two parties by various sporting identities has proved unsuccessful.

New Zealand's eventing team for Rio is likely to include double individual gold medallist Mark Todd, husband-and-wife team Tim and Jonelle Price and Jock Paget, with veteran Blyth Tait an outside chance to force his way into the mix.

- NZ Herald

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