Berni Saunders: Controversial Australian Olympic Team Selection
Our guest columnist of the week is Australian Berni Saunders, a passionate dressage lover, rider, trainer and reporter/photographer. She has trained and ridden 8 FEI horses which she started as youngsters and has competed extensively and successfully. She has represented Australia in the FEI Challenge at PSG level and Grand Prix at State and National level. In 1994 Berni and husband Bill had a vision and pioneered the web site Cyberhorse. The site is based on the changing requirements of the horse community and provides up to date information, news and an on-line community for horse lovers to enjoy and share.
Controversial Australian Olympic Team Selection
With a little over 2 weeks to the London Opening Ceremony, the Australian Teams selection has now been finalised. For many thousands of enthusiasts the selection of the teams in all three disciplines has been controversial because of the changes of rules, amended dates and a great emphasis on the discretionary elements of the selection and nomination process.
While I believe these matters are a symptom of deeper problems, I also completely understand that the riders have a right - perhaps even a responsibility - to do their best to get onto the team, However, 2 appeals in each discipline send a clear message that the management is weak and the process lacks clearly defined rules, transparency and honesty which would have kept everyone on the same page and understanding what to expect. The ongoing vitriol between Equestrian Australia (Australian equestrian federation) and the many aggrieved members has ongoing and the Chairman Paul Cargill's statement has done nothing to set minds at rest and ease the criticism. EA's Facebook page saw unprecedented activity by way of response which sent a very negative message.
It appears that EA have simply walked away from their responsibility to be accountable and point the finger at others rather than step up to give assurances that this will never happen again.
The unrest is surely a symptom of poor management, bad systems and a lack of accountability. All business management experts will confirm that when you do not care about your “customers” you no longer have a viable business model. Many of us feel that EA is in a serious downward spiral and the number of non returning members is proof that this is not unsubstantiated gossip, your “customers” expect better!
With that rave out of the way, we are all very proud of the riders who have gone through the gruelling selection and nomination process to be the Australia's choice to represent us in London.
With modern technology set to beam the live action back home, never before has international competition been so accessible and real. It does not seem so long ago since we had to wait for 6 weeks to see two or three photos and just some of the results. The Internet has certainly changed the face of the media and everyone is now “in the loop” and able to share their thoughts with friends on the many “social media” sites.
-- by Berni Saunders