FEI Final Olympic Qualification Proposals Keeps Cuts to Teams from Americas, Increases Individual Slots

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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has sent nations final proposals for 2016 Olympic quaifying that rejected moves to restore allocation of two teams from the Americas and placed greater emphasis on slots for individuals.

The latest proposal–the most controversial issue before the FEI–limits to a single nation qualifying through the Pan American Games in 2015–two qualified for London through the Pan Ams in 2011–and dismissed a compromise move that would have allocated slots to the four highest ranked nations from the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France next year.

The FEI proposal for 10 nations directly qualifying for the Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 was distributed Thursday and a copy obtained by dressage-news.com. The complete proposal can be found here: 2016 Olympic qualifying.

In drawing up the final proposal, FEI Secretary General Ingmar de Vos said consultation on Olympic qualifying began at the FEI Sports Forum in April then sent to national federations July 4 for comment.

He said, “the version of the Olympic Qualifications that contain the results of the discussion and integration of the respective Technical committees of these comments made by the NFs and Regional Groups.”

Nations throughout the Americas, including the Pan American Equestrian Confederation, urged changes to the FEI proposals that could have the effect of only a single nation from the two continents able to field a team.

However, the combination of individual qualifications proposed by the FEI could lead to so-called “composite” national teams.

The 132 national federations that make up the organization that governs horse sports will have the final say at its General Assembly in Switzerland early next month.

The qualifying proposal confirmed that the number of Olympic combinations for dressage will be increased to 60 from 50 in recent Games, and that teams can have a maximum of four horses and riders and a minimum of three instead of the limit of three per nation that was applied for the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games.

The proposal that was drawn up by the FEI Dressage Committee of six members–five from Europe and one from the United States with the American voting against, sources told dressage-news.com–provides for 40 pairs for team competition made up of:

* Three highest ranked teams to qualify through the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in 2014;

* Three highest ranked teams from the European Championships in Aachen, Germany in 2015;

* One best ranked team from the Americas through the Pan Ams to be held in Toronto in 2015;

* One best ranked team from Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Oceania (Australia/New Zealand) at the WEG;

* One best ranked team from Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Oceania plus the nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan at a “special qualification event,” and

* Qualification of the host nation of Brazil, subject to attaining the Olympic minimum score required of 64 per cent in specified conditions. The host nation traditionally is not counted against the geographic region.

However, the proposal places emphasis on individual slots with an allocation of the remaining 20 athletes.

Six places will be by quota:

* The two highest ranked individuals from the the European groups at the 2015 European Championships, excluding riders on teams already qualified;

* The two highest ranked individuals from the Americas in the Grand Prix at the 2015 Pan Am Games that will include mixed teams of big and small tour combinations for the first time, and excluding nations already qualified with a team, and

* The two highest ranked individuals from Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia and Oceania in the Grand Prix at the “special qualification event,” excluding nations already qualified with a team.

Another seven individual places will be available to competitors placed first in the FEI Olympic Athletes Ranking for nations not achievng a “direct” quota place for teams for all seven of the geographic groups:

1. North Western Europe;
2. South Western Europe;
3. Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia;
4. North America;
5. Central and South America;
6. Africa and Middle East, and
7. South East Asia and Oceania.

If the first placed athlete in the respective group is unable to use the allocated quota slot, it will be re-allocated to the second placed athlete within the group and continue within the group.

The remaining quota of seven individuals will be achieved by taking the athletes in their order on the FEI Olympic Ranking Athletes to reach a total of 60 athletes, but excluding athletes from nations which have qualified a team or athletes that qualified an individual slot for their FEI Olympic Group.

A nation can qualify a maximum of four athletes/horses.