New Zealand’s Prospective Olympians Get Coaching Boost on Road to Paris 2024

Team New Zealand chef d’equipe Sam Griffiths at last year’s Pratoni test event. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

New Zealand’s four-strong equestrian team has continued its strong build up to Paris 2024 with their recent first placing overall at the 2023 Mill Street International Horse Trial in Ireland.

Leading the coaching support for the equestrian team is UK-based Sam Griffiths, who is himself getting support through HPSNZ’s Coach Accelerator Te Tūāpapa programme.

As part of Te Tūāpapa’s bespoke pinnacle event campaign support, programme lead Christian Penny has been working with Sam and has headed to the UK to assist him with campaign planning ahead of the all-important five-star horse trial in Aachen, Germany, a critical event on the road to Paris.

In December 2022 the New Zealand equestrian team undertook a Te Tūāpapa residential programme using tikanga marae process as a guide and work template for the group to help them gain clarity and commitment on a shared approach to Paris, says Christian.

“Sam was part of the equestrian team that undertook the residential and is one of the leaders who ‘glue’ them together. Eventing is essentially an individual challenge so keeping a sense of shared momentum, especially heading to Paris, is part of the plan to break through a glass ceiling in that event.”

Following the team’s time in New Zealand, Christian set up a fortnightly, online coaching session with Sam which has focussed on his current questions around bringing his best to coaching the New Zealand team.

“A key question I ask high performance coaches like Sam is ‘what do you need to be your best for the athlete or team in a pinnacle event like Paris?’ As part of the remote coaching sessions, we’ve covered a wide range of topics that are important in Sam’s role including contracting, use of powerful language, adapting to different athlete learning styles, laying down a challenge, and preparation and reflection on sessions and competition,” says Christian.

Sam is enthusiastic about the opportunity to work face to face with Christian.  “If we want an athlete to put in a world class performance then their support needs to be world class,” says Sam. “Christian is helping me raise my game to try and give that level of support in a multi-dimensional way.”

Equally Christian says seeing the coach and athletes in action helps further build the right support.

“It is a real privilege and opportunity for me to spend valuable time with Sam as he further builds on his coaching toolkit to enable the equestrian team to compete at their very best in Paris.”

Here’s a more in-depth look at how the program works:



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments