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EVENTING: Nicholson and Richards make Olympic team
MARLBOROUGH-BASED eventers Andrew Nicholson and Jonelle Richards have been included in New Zealand's five-strong team to contest Olympic gold in London.
Nicholson, who completed a one-two on Avebury and Quimbo in the CIC*** event at Barbury Horse Trials on Sunday, creates a landmark alongside veteran double Olympic gold medallist Mark Todd, both riders representing their country at a record seventh Games.
Richards, who missed Barbury because of an arm injury, is included for her first Games appearance along with 2010 World Championship bronze medal winner Caroline Powell and Jonathan Paget.
Nicholson will compete aboard 12-year-old chestnut Nereo, on whom he won individual bronze at the 2010 World Championships.
The 50-year-old, whose previous Games appearances were in 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 and who is tipped as a potential gold medallist, said: “The pinnacle for me is an Olympic gold - that is at the top of my list.
“If I can arrive at the Olympics with Nereo in the state he should be in, then I am confident we will be competitive with the best, and in with a good chance of winning.
“There are some very good combinations from Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Australia, America and the list goes on, but I do have an awful lot of faith in Nereo.”
Nicholson was part of the New Zealand team to win silver at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and bronze in Atlanta four years later.
Meanwhile, Wiltshire riders Andrew Hoy and Clayton and Lucinda Fredericks had their places in Australia's team for London 2012 confirmed yesterday.
Badbury-based Hoy and the Little Cheverell-based Fredericks duo had their selections ratified by the Australia Olympic Committee after appeals against the make-up of the team were thrown out.
It means Hoy, 53, who will ride Rutherglen, becomes the first Australia competitor to take part in seven Olympic Games, having already had three gold and one silver medal to his name.
He said: “The feeling changes from each Olympics because as you get older you value things more - you value the results, you value the opportunities and you value life more.
“When I made my sixth Olympics I thought there might be a possibility of getting the record. But when it comes to representing your country, that’s not the record you’re aiming for, it’s just a nice little extra.
“The goal is to be successful and produce a world class performance.”
The Fredericks line up for their second Olympics, after helping Australia to team silver four years ago in Beijing.
Clayton, who rode Olympic horse Bendigo at the test event in London last year, said: “I am thrilled to be on the team, over the next five weeks myself and the other team members will be working really hard to ensure a great performance at the Olympic Games.”
Lucinda added: “The Olympics is very special and to have another crack of it is fantastic.”