Former gold medal winner Nick Skelton on the new format: “It was a disaster” Rio 2016 Olympic individual gold medal winner Nick Skelton criticizes the new Olympic format. He attended the Olympics to support his wife, Laura Kraut. In a column for Horse & Hound, he explains why the format is not working.
Nick comments that he has seen wonderful sport of the highest level over the past week. Also, the facilities for the horses were tip-top in Tokyo. However, he calls the new format ‘a disaster,’ and believes the FEI is responsible for it. “None of the nasty events should be put on the shoulders of the riders,” he says.
“I know Shane Sweetnam received a lot of criticism on social media for his round. It was absolutely not his fault. The only reason he was in this position was because of the new rules. We could all see what would happen after the second fence, and it was uncomfortable to watch. But Shane had to finish his round, otherwise his country would have forfeited all chances of a medal. That didn’t look good on TV.”
“Fortunately, the horse is going to be fine, but he should never have performed under this pressure. So there should be a rule about such situations. Maybe there should be a professional rider sitting in the judging box with the judges to help make such a decision.”
The new format also threw a spanner in the works in individual qualifying, according to Nick. “In this format, Big Star and I would not have even been allowed to go into the individual final in Rio. How many combinations did we see travel to Tokyo for just 90 seconds in the ring because they had some unfortunate mistakes in the first round? That shouldn’t happen. I would rather go back to individual qualification, followed by two days of team jumping, and then go back to the individual final.”
According to Nick, the elimination of the drop score is nothing good. “Because of the unpredictability of equestrian, you need that drop score. The riders were strong in their opinions about the new format beforehand. It was not going to work, and horse welfare would be compromised. And it did indeed happen as the riders predicted. But the FEI wouldn’t listen,” he concludes his column.
Source Horse and Hound
Photo by Hippo Foto