Skelton sits out Europeans as all roads lead to Rio

11 July 2013 / 21:29

Nick Skelton will miss next month's show jumping European Championships after the veteran decided to focus his competitions in the build-up to the 2016 Olympics.

Skelton, who won team gold at London 2012 aged 54, is determined to take part in a seventh Games in Brazil.

But acknowledges he needs to select his battles carefully, with next year's World Equestrian Games in Normandy the main target on the road to Rio.

"I feel that it is in the best interest for Big Star to give him a year off from a Championship," said Skelton. 

"It is our goal to try and reach Rio 2016 and conservative management will only help to this cause."

Ben Maher and Scott Brash are the only surviving members of last year's successful team, who won Britain's first Olympic show jumping medal since 1984 and their first gold since 1952 in Helsinki.

They will be joined at the European Championships by Robert Smith, William Funnell and the experienced Michael Whitaker.

“I completely support Nick's decision which has been the outcome of open and detailed discussions between the owners, the rider and the World Class Programme," said British team performance manager Will Connell. 

"This openness and long term planning is exactly what we have been seeking to develop across all the disciplines.

"We must not ask too much of either Big Star or Nick if we want them on top form in Normandy and then Rio.

“The team sees some familiar faces making their return to a British Championship jumping team but on horses that will be making their Championship debut in Herning.

"2013 is all about building a squad to qualify for and campaign through to, Rio 2016; however, we head to Denmark with riders who have a vast depth of experience between them and I know they will be solely and wholly focussed on winning medals.”

© Sportsbeat 2013