The petition that circulated Facebook received 14,850 signatures in less than 12 hours. Maybe, there are 17,000 members all up in the EA. Holy smoke! Talk about an outraged public.
So how did this happen?
In 2009, Julia Battams was appointed the National Performance Director of Equestrian Australia.
In 2010, at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, USA, Sharon Jarvis won two bronze medals in the para-dressage.
In 2012, at the London Paralympics, Joann Formosa won an individual gold medal in the para-dressage.
In 2013, Chris Webb was appointed as the Australian High Performance Director for the Australian Equestrian Team.
In 2014, in Caen, Normandy, France the para-dressage team came 13th. No medals.
In 2016, at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics the para-dressage team came 9th in the team classification. However, Lisa Martin ran fourth in two different classes. So, very close to a bronze medal.
In 2016, Julia Battams’ contract ended and was not renewed.
In 2018, Chris Webb started his policy of not sending a para-dressage team to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon. However, he did send an individual in Emma Booth. So, no team at WEG and Emma did go well and was pretty close to a medal, running a fourth and a fifth. Still, no medals.
In 2020, at the Tokyo Paralympics, which should have been outstanding what with no team at WEG 2018 in Tryon and everyone putting everything they had into the 2020 Paralympics. Well, clearly this policy did not work; no medals and the para-dressage team came 13th.
In 2022, history is starting to repeat itself and Chris again has tried to implement a policy of no para-dressage team with the explanation that all efforts and funding were to go towards a successful 2024 Paris Paralympics.
In 2021, the show jumping debacle at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was much more complicated than just a positive drug test on one of the riders. The rider, however, absolutely got blamed for Australia not fielding a team. There definitely were options regarding reserves which should have been implemented by Australian High Performance, which were not done. Basically, this was in my opinion an administration High Performance bungle.
In 2016, the able-bodied dressage debacle at the Rio Olympics again involving alleged drugs. Again, I think this did revolve around a High Performance administration mistake in not having enough reserves nominated. The riders really had a very tough time as a result of this.