Our Tokyo 2020 Eventing Team has spent the last week completing the mandatory pre-export quarantine (PEQ) period across two locations: Sydney International Equestrian Centre (SIEC), NSW and Chedington Equestrian in the United Kingdom.
Not only were our selected athletes and support personnel present but four additional qualified combinations also joined the team in PEQ as non-travelling reserves, assisting the Australian Team as they prepared to travel to Tokyo.
Being a reserve combination in Olympic PEQ is an important role but also one of the most challenging positions for an athlete to hold. They undergo all the same Olympic preparation as the selected team members with no guarantee of attending the Games themselves. Stepping into PEQ as a reserve combination for an Olympic squad requires not only dedication to the overall team’s best interests but also a humble yet focused approach.
The Australia-based combinations that entered PEQ at SIEC were Sonja Jonson and Misty Isle Valentino, accompanied by groom Rebecca Hackett, and Hazel Shannon and WillingaPark Clifford, supported by groom Bronte Buttel.
In UK PEQ the combinations were Chris Burton and Clever Louis, aided by groom Coriander Cousins, and Sammi Birch and Hunter Valley II, supported by groom Helen Tagg.
All riders and grooms completed the PEQ process displaying true sportsmanship and professionalism, remaining supportive of their fellow riders who left for Tokyo today throughout the duration.
“Sitting in PEQ watching the travelling team members pack is never fun. It does however make it much easier when it’s been a great group and the horses look, and are going, so well. Go get‘em boys,” said Sonja.Hazel Shannon described the experience as one that will help her future Olympic goals.
“I feel very privileged to have been considered for selection. The experience of preparing for an Olympics and watching some of the best Australian riders preparing for an Olympics has been invaluable. It’s not an easy journey for anyone and I have great respect for all riders who commit to this.”
The UK PEQ was held at the home base of Chris Burton, Chedington Equestrian in Dorset. Despite the disappointment of forfeiting his place on the Australian Team, which would have been his third Games, Chris has continued to support his fellow riders throughout their PEQ in preparation for Tokyo.
Andrew Hoy who underwent PEQ at Chris’ residence said:
“A mention has to go to our teammate Chris Burton, even though he has suffered the most disappointing blow over the last weeks, he has been an amazing supporter and ‘rock’ for the whole team. Thank you so much, Burto - I hope we can do you proud!”
Sammi Birch riding Hunter Valley II, who were also named as the travelling reserve combination for Rio 2016, spoke of her time in PEQ and the training the riders have undergone in preparation for Tokyo.
“It has been a great week of training at Chedington Equestrian with the support of teammates Chris Burton, Andrew Hoy and Kevin McNab. We are fortunate to have so many fantastic riders here in England. Thank you also to Nelson Pessoa for his incredible insights and input into our program. I am disappointed not to be on the team but I wish them the best of luck in Tokyo!”
EA High Performance Director, Chris Webb, said:
“We understand that being a non-travelling reserve and entering PEQ with the team ahead of an Olympic Games is a challenging position. The strength of character that all of our athletes have demonstrated throughout the PEQ process is a testament to their outstanding sportsmanship and team mentality.
“We would like to thank Sammi Birch, Chris Burton, Sonja Johnson and Hazel Shannon as well as their grooms Coriander Cousins, Helen Tagg, Rebecca Hackett and Bronte Buttel for dedicating their time to the Australian Team, committing to PEQ and for supporting the team's overall Tokyo podium aspirations."
Article courtesy of Equestrian Austraila