Being selected to represent your country at the Olympics has to be the ultimate accolade, something to be aspired to, and that only a few will ever experience. Being able to do so on home turf is the icing on the cake AND the cherry on top – London 2012 is certainly something that every British Sportsman or woman will want to be a part of.
When selected to represent Team GBR, Piggy French was lucky enough to be in a position whereby she had 2 potential rides to choose from in Jakarta and DHI Topper W. The British Eventing website quoted her as saying; “I am overly excited and very relieved. It is what my team and I have been working towards over the last few years.” Imagine her heartbreak then, when not one but both of her rides picked up injuries, leaving her out of contention with less than a month to go.
I have watched Horse & Country TV’s ‘Getting to Greenwich’ feature on Piggy French with great interest, and her desire, work ethic and passion are undeniable. She’s long since been a consistent name in the eventing world, and it was no surprise when she was named by selectors. Her terrible misfortune is a great blow to Team GBR, of that there is no doubt.
On the flip side, the door has been opened for the enigmatic Opposition Buzz and Nicola Wilson who will now take their chance at London 2012. It would be fair to say that selectors caused a few eyebrows to be raised when the uber consistent and popular pair were overlooked. The gelding has notched up an impressive 1804 points as it stands, and his exuberant jumping style has endeared him to the nation. This combination will be likely to take on the role of pathfinders for the team, as they have so ably done in previous years.
Despite her obvious disappointment in the wake of the original decision to name them only reserves, Nicola Wilson was entirely gracious – further cementing her popularity. The circumstances that have led to their, in my opinion, rightful place on Team GBR are completely devastating for all connections, and I’ve no doubt that even Nicola herself feels greatly for Piggy.
Nicola and Opposition Buzz are a force to be reckoned with, and I am hopeful that they will show the nation just how deserving they are of the coveted spot. I’ve been lucky enough to see the combination compete in the flesh twice – at Badminton 2011 and Barbury 2012, and both times their performance across country has been breath taking.
I can only imagine what Piggy must be feeling, having spent so long planning and preparing for this end goal only to fall at the final hurdle. My thoughts go out to her and her team, and I only hope that she is able to make amends in years to come. Whilst I’m sure there are many who are delighted for the inclusion of Nicola and Buzz, I’m equally sure that nobody would wish for it to come about at the expense of another highly deserving horse and rider.
Good luck Nicola and Opposition Buzz, and all of Team GBR.