Just a MER 16 Months to the Paris Olympics
It seems only a few months ago that we were cheering on Edwina Tops-Alexander and Katie Laurie in the belated running of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, yet here we are, just 16 months out from the 2024 Paris Olympics. With this in mind, Jumping athletes from around the world will have turned their attention to the rules which have been set down by the FEI which they need to adhere to, to be eligible for selection in Paris 2024.
The focus of rider/horse combinations will be to meet the Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER) for selection to go to Paris. Meeting the MER, does not automatically mean a trip to Paris, but it does mean that the rider will be eligible for selection. In other words, not every combination who achieves the MER will go to Paris, but all combinations who do end up in Paris, will have achieved their MER.
So, let’s take a look at what individual combinations need to do to achieve their MER.
Firstly, Athlete/Horse combinations, need to achieve their MER during the eligibility window, which opened on 1 January this year and will continue up to and including the competitions held on 24 June 2024, which is known as the MER deadline.
There are four different ways that combinations can obtain their MER, three of which can be achieved through competitions held outside Australia. They are:
- By doing well at Team and Individual Competitions at Continental Jumping Championships and Games, for example, the European Championships or Pan-American Games.
- By doing well in Grand Prix competitions of at 4* or 5* (and some 3*) status
- By doing well in Nations Cup Competitions.
The definitions of what we have called “doing well” are quite complicated. The full document from the FEI can be accessed HERE at Article 632 at page 61.
That leaves the fourth option which is the one open to combinations competing domestically and of most interest to us in this article.
To obtain their MER, combinations will need to compete in outdoor World Cup Qualifiers. During the 2023 season, this means at either Shepparton or Werribee (D&JWTS), as already held in March, or at Larapinta, Royal Adelaide, Sale and Sydney Summer Classic. There will also be the opportunity to compete at World Cup Qualifiers during the first part of 2024, (up to 24 June), however the 2024 season has not been scheduled as yet.
In these events, combinations have to prove their consistency by performing well at least three times. This stops combinations that have a single freakishly good performance from qualifying.
In these World Cup Qualifiers there is different criteria depending on the height of the course.
If the course is set at 1.55m, the combination must finish the first round with a score of no more than four penalties, or,
If the course is set at 1.60m, the combination must finish the first round with a score of no more than eight penalties.
Any combination which achieves either of these standards will be said to have achieved their “one-third MER”. By achieving the standard three times, the combination will be said to have achieved their MER and will be eligible for selection.
Having said that, while, there will be six opportunities for combinations to achieve one-third MERs in 2023, there are a number of standards that the courses to be competed over must meet before MERs can be achieved. We will be relying on Course Designers to pay close attention to the requirements to produce courses which allow combinations the opportunity to qualify. These characteristics include criteria such as number of obstacles, inclusion of a triple and doubles, inclusion of liverpools, the ratio of vertical to spread obstacles, depth of cups, course length and speed required. These aspects only touch the surface of what is required. Again, full details can be found HERE under thee Technical Specifications heading on page 62.
There have been two opportunities for domestic based combinations to start producing MER performances. We understand the course at Shepparton was designed with a maximum of 1.55m, therefore, all combinations with four or less faults in the first round have achieved their first one-third MER. Further, the course at Werribee was designated at 1.60m and so a first round score of eight faults or less was required. Already, a number of combinations have performed consistently well at the two World Cup Qualifiers held over the past two weeks and in doing so are two-thirds of the was to achieving the Minimum Eligibility Requirement. An unofficial list of the one-third MERs achieved to date appears below:
|Sarah McMillan||Tyrone VDL||1/3||1/3|
|Amber Fuller||Nopal Van Tallaert||1/3||1/3|
|Ally Lamb||Eagle Rock||1/3||1/3|
|Madeline Sinderberry||Gredstedgaads Number One||1/3||1/3|
|Emma Collins||Cordelia Ego Z||1/3||1/3|
|Tom McDermott||Cooley Gangster||1/3||1/3|
|Izabella Stone||Tulara Stolzette||1/3|
|Sally Simmonds||Oaks Charleville||1/3|
|Brook Dobbin||Gina MVNZ||1/3|
|Amber Fuller||CP Aretino||1/3|
|Izabella Stone||Oaks Ventriloquist||1/3|
|Gabrielle Chugg||KG Queenie||1/3|
|Jennifer Wood||Cocaine Ego Z||1/3|
|Conor Reed||Alpha Activity||1/3|
|Gemma Creighton||Dada Des Brimbelles Z||1/3|
|Jess Rice-Ward||Tulara Diarangol||1/3|
We hope this all makes sense and we look forward to tracking the progress of our top combinations as they work towards achieving their MERs and hopefully Olympic Selection.