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Posted by Kirsty Pasto on 22/02/2021.

Equestrian Australia High Performance Weekly Update – 22nd February 2021

As we approach the end of February the landscape continues to change as we work to mitigate the constraints that have arisen due to the global pandemic. Our athletes continue to concentrate not only on their Tokyo 2020 preparations but also on their World Equestrian Games 2022 plans, having entered the qualification period earlier this year.

Internationally our riders face varying levels of restriction due to Covid-19 however many have been fortunate to continue their competition campaigns under strict health and safety guidelines. We currently have two athletes in transit to Doha (QAT) from Europe who have been invited to compete at the CHI Al Shaqab presented by Longines. This unique experience will give our team the opportunity to review the new international travel procedures involved with flying athletes and horses for competition purposes during a global pandemic; as well as the additional Covid testing, paperwork and protocols in place to secure the competition venue and athlete accommodation.

Domestically we saw the first FEI level event for 2021 take place this weekend at the Randwick Equine Centre Sydney Eventing Summer Classic where both CCI3*S and CCI2*S competitions were held. This is the first in a series of domestic FEI events that line the calendar and will give our Australian based athletes the opportunity to continue their Tokyo 2020 preparations. As Covid continues to impact our athletes in varying degrees dependent on their geographical location we remain in close contact with each rider to ensure they have the most up-to-date information available so they can prepare their competition schedule accordingly for the season ahead. 

Last week we hosted the first of our ‘Covid-19 Strategy’ sessions in the form of a two-day virtual workshop that also included the participation of our Tokyo 2020 Eventing identified athletes. The workshop focussed on how we will prepare our athletes and horses as a team for the Tokyo 2020 Games and included open discussion surrounding Covid-19 protocols, the logistics of a pre-Games camp, and what our athletes can expect on the ground in Tokyo upon arrival. In addition the workshop also addressed the impact that Brexit is currently having on our UK based athletes who rely on travel to the continent to prepare their horses for Tokyo 2020 team selection. The workshop not only looked at current and future preparation strategies it also gave our athletes the opportunity to ask questions about the process and engage in the conversation concerning our overall team preparation.

Due to the impact of Covid-19 the 2019/2020 Australian World Cup Jumping season was unfortunately cancelled last year. Under normal circumstances and in keeping with the League rules the winner and runner-up of the Australian World Cup Jumping League would have been invited to compete at the FEI World Cup Final. However, with the cancellation of the 2019/2020 League Australia currently have two quota spots to fill for the FEI Jumping World Cup Final to be held in Gothenburg (SWE) in April. As a result expressions of interest have been opened for riders who would like to fill the allocated spots to represent Australia at the Final in April. Further information regarding rider eligibility and an expression of interest form can be found by visiting the Australian World Cup Jumping website.

Last week we opened applications for the role of ‘HP Dressage Manager’ and expressions of interest for positions on the ‘Equestrian Australia Para-Equestrian Panel’. These newly introduced positions will support the development of our riders and the sustainability of the Dressage and Para-Equestrian Programs, respectively. Further information on these positions, including application details and position descriptions can be found by visiting https://www.equestrian.org.au/news/position-vacant-high-performance-dressage-manager and https://www.equestrian.org.au/news/expressions-interest-open-equestrian-australia-para-equestrian-panel

We are aware that as we draw closer to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games our riders and stakeholders are anxiously awaiting the release of the updated selection policies. We remain in close contact with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), Sport Australia, FEI and Paralympics Australia (PA) to ensure our athletes are able to meet all the requirements of the amended FEI policies that were introduced in May 2020, including qualification criteria and confirmation results. The Australian selection policies are currently under review in consultation with the AOC and PA and we will continue to communicate any developments with our athletes and stakeholders.

As always the health and safety of our people and horses remain our priority as we work together as a high-performance community to navigate these unprecedented times.

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