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OLYMPICS: Still going strong
Marlborough-based Andrew Nicholson and Avebury negotiate the CIC*** showjumping course on their way to victory at the Barbury International Horse Trials last weekend
ANDREW Nicholson insists his passion for competing at the top level of eventing is as strong as ever as he sits on the brink of his seventh Olympic Games.
The 50-year-old, who is based in Marlborough, was named in the New Zealand team for London 2012 earlier this week, after giving a timely reminder of his talent as with a one-two finish at last weekend’s Barbury Horse Trials CIC*** event.
Individual gold medal chance Nicholson’s first- ever Barbury win was on second-choice ride Avebury, as he also secured second place on Quimbo. The Kiwi star has no plans to go easy on his rides as he prepares for the Olympics.
“There’s an awful lot of pressure on you when you’ve got the Olympics coming up,” he told the Gazette & Herald.
“Even if you think you don’t want to be competitive at an event, it’s nearly harder because you ‘umm and aah’ and you can see a jump and think ‘there’s four more strides; no there’s five’.
“(If I quit) what else would I do? I love what I do and I’m very privileged to have a job doing what a lot of people spend a fortune on as a hobby.
“Now I’m older, I appreciate how lucky I am to have all these things.
“For me and the horses, it’s important to keep the same system and hopefully we get to where we go.”
Nicholson has taken Olympic ride Nereo to the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, this week.
He added: “To me, Aachen is a great preparation for Olympics because of the pressure there and I don’t want to wrap them up in cotton wool. They’re used to competing and trying to win.”
Also celebrating a place in New Zealand’s team is Jonelle Richards and ride Flintstar.
The 31-year-old was a non-travelling reserve for the 2004 Games in Athens and says her call-up justifies the decision to base herself in Mildenhall.
“I moved over here in the build-up to Athens and putting yourself in a position to compete against the best in the world was the best thing to do at the time – now it’s great to be able to capitalise on that,” she said.
“I always thought I had a chance because we’ve competed a lot this year and it’s really exciting.
“Four weeks is a long time in eventing so fingers crossed everything goes well and we get to the opening ceremony.”
Jonathan Paget, Mark Todd and Caroline Powell complete New Zealand’s team.