Andrew Nicholson spoke out on his absence from the Equestrian Sports New Zealand High Performance squad in an interview in today’s New Zealand Herald, revealing he withdrew from negotiations to reintegrate after ESNZ denied him a spot to compete at the Aachen CICO3* next month.
We also learn the exact nature of the altercation at last year’s World Equestrian Games that led to Andrew removing himself from the squad; he admitted to “grabbing New Zealand team vet Ollie Pynn by the lapels and shifting him approximately four meters across a corridor” after becoming angry that Nereo was left unattended while on an IV drip following cross country.
ESNZ chief executive Vicki Glynn told the Herald that ESNZ had deemed it too soon for Andrew to compete at Aachen after being estranged from the squad since last fall: “He made it a condition he would be on the team for Aachen,” she said. “We felt that would be inappropriate.”
As a result, Andrew withdrew from the negotiations and told the Herald he is finished with ESNZ: “I have drawn a line and will carry on doing my own thing. They forget I’ve been doing that for seven to eight months anyway.”
New Zealand’s big dilemma remains the 2016 Rio Olympics, which the country must qualify for by finishing higher in the team standings than Japan at the Boekelo CCIO3* Nations Cup competition in October. If they don’t achieve that, New Zealand must qualify based on FEI Rider Rankings.
If Andrew wants to represent New Zealand next year at Rio, he must submit an application to ESNZ by July 25, and if he wants to get back on the squad at all, he must sign an athlete agreement requiring good behavior.
“Andrew’s a reliable individual but it can’t be at any cost,” Vicki told the Herald. “We can’t let him determine his own fate, ride at his own pace and not follow a collective decision.”
Meanwhile, Andrew is singing a very different tune: “If I’m good enough and needed for Rio, it’ll be on my terms,” he said. “The Olympics are not until next year. They could change their attitude if the main players run out of horses.”
What do you think, EN? Are you Team Andrew or Team ESNZ?