Equestrian events are notable and unique. They are the only Olympic discipline where animals participate, and the equipment is live. The challenge is for rider and horse to present at the competition in prime physical and mental condition. Men and women compete on equal terms and age seems no barrier.
Equestrian Australia (EA) announced the 2012 National Squads on 16th January 2012. The “Elite” and “A” listed combinations for each discipline; Dressage, Eventing, Jumping and Para-Equestrian form the Shadow Teams for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In this sport:
• Dressage; demonstrates training,
• X-Country; demonstrates endurance and courage
• Show Jumping; demonstrates fitness, skill and temperament.
Natalie Blundell, along with John Glenn and Julia McLean’s horse, Algebra, have been named in this squad and are currently (as at January 2012) twentieth in the International Olympic rankings and fourth amongst the Australians. Eight horse rider combinations will go to the final training camp in Greenwich, two weeks prior to the Olympics.
Five combinations will be selected to represent Australia.
Julia McLean, owner of Algebra, says “We believe the combination of Natalie's skill with Algebra has a real chance to be one of those five going to the Olympics."
She continues to say, "It is a long journey for a combination in this sport but today Algebra is a bit of a crowd favourite because of his small size and big heart. In the last two years Natalie and Algebra have placed eighth (2010) and fourth (2011) at the Adelaide International Four Star, 5th in Melbourne 2011 and Sydney 2010 International 3DEs and 3rd at Albury.”
Australia first competed at the 1956 Olympics, where the event was held in Stockholm (not Melbourne with the rest of the Olympic events) due to Australia’s strict quarantine laws. Finding the right horse and taking it through the training to reach the Olympic level competition is not for the faint hearted and it is an expensive journey.
Natalie’s own dream has previously encountered setbacks and hurdles, however, with Algebra, there is a winning combination with real contention. Natalie is a charming, personable girl dedicated to her sport and her ability.
John Glenn, owner of Algebra the horse, says “People like Natalie inspire. Whether they mean to be or not they are leaders in our communities, they provide an example of excellence, they motivate and encourage us to achieve more. Eventing in general is high adrenaline, crowd pleasing thrills and spills. It’s an exciting sport.“
He continues to say, “However wealthy mentors are hard to come by and corporate marketing tends to be focussed on those who have been successful rather than on those who aspire. Many would like to contribute but it can seem daunting, unaffordable and complicated. “
“We are setting up Nalgebra so that it has broad attraction – with the view that not only should those with extraordinarily talent be afforded the opportunity to excel despite their limited means, so too should those of limited means (most of us) be allowed to contribute and support their pursuit of excellence. We encourage you to contact us and support or donate in any way that you can.”
Nalgbera is being registered as a not for profit public company with the charter to support “the pursuit of excellence”. If this is as successful for Natalie as we hope, we intend to offer similar opportunity to other recipients.
It need not be constrained to equestrian pursuits, it is limited only by the dedication and ability of the candidates and the willingness of the communities.
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Charlie-Helen RobinsonM: +61 424644624