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Todd And Nicholson Head For Their Sixth Games

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

17 June 2008 - Seasoned campaigners Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson will make history when they line up in the New Zealand eventing team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

They will be joined by Joe Meyer, Caroline Powell and Heelan Tompkins in Hong Kong where the Olympic equestrian events will be held.

After eight years in retirement, Todd has completed a successful return to the elite level with inclusion this year where he joins the consistent Nicholson as New Zealand's most capped Olympian.

The pair will be attending their sixth Olympic Games, surpassing canoeist Ian Fergusson's attendance at five Games.

New Zealand Olympic selector and Secretary General, Barry Maister, said the eventing announcement was particularly special. "Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson are among our finest Olympians and to have athletes attending their sixth Games is testament to the depth of talent we have in New Zealand sport. I think it is a fantastic team and we have high hopes for them.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest riders of all time, Todd, a gold medalist at Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul 1988, was delighted to get the seal of approval after a late bid for inclusion.

``I'm delighted that we've got the nod to go,'' he said.

``It's what we set out to do at the beginning and we're looking forward to being part of the team.

``New Zealand has a good, solid team - they're all pretty strong, fit and sound - so we've got a good chance of going really well out there.''

The UK-based Nicholson, known as Mr Consistency on the European eventing circuit, is continuing an Olympic association that started at Los Angeles in 1994. He has been a consistent top 10 performer over a number of years and holds the record for the most number of Badminton completions, which is regarded as the world's most prestigious four star event.

``It's a pretty good team,'' he said. ``It's better than what it could have been a couple of years ago and it's getting stronger all the time.

``We have a good chance of winning a team medal.''

Meyer, who has been based in the UK for several years, will be making his Olympic debut in Hong Kong.

``It's what I've been aiming for for years; I've always wanted to go to the Olympics,'' he said.

``Competing at Badminton, Burghley, the world champs and the Olympics - that's what it's all been about.

``I'm very excited and I want it to go very well. It's good to be selected but now I want to win a prize.''

Powell, formerly from Canterbury and now based in Scotland, will also make her debut in Hong Kong. A big improver in recent years, Powell reached a career highlight and the best European performance by a New Zealand this season when finishing fourth in top company at Badminton.

``It's great and I was kind of hopeful,'' she said.

``I think we've got a good depth of team and that we have as much chance as anyone. As long as things come together we're in with a good chance.''

Taranaki's Tompkins completed her selection build-up in the UK. Tompkins made her Olympic debut in Athens four years ago where she was the best-placed of the New Zealand team in seventh, the same place she achieved at the World Equestrian Games in 2006.

``We've got a really strong team,'' she said.

``This is the most excited I have been of any of the teams I have been in so far. The riders are individually strong and hopefully together it will produce a medal result.''

Equestrian Sports NZ chief executive officer Jim Ellis said the five riders represented a strong and experienced eventing team.

``New Zealand's first six-time Olympians Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd are to be congratulated for the history they will create in Hong Kong,'' he said.

``New Zealand has a proud Olympic history in eventing and it is hoped that the horsepower, rider talent and experience in this team will add to that medal-winning list in August."

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