Equestrian Jesse Campbell is set to make his Olympic debut next week, having been chosen for the New Zealand eventing team.
The 32-year-old rider, who is based near Ramsbury in Wiltshire along with his wife and fellow eventer Georgie Campbell, has flown out to Tokyo with his horse Diachello.
“It’s always a huge honour and privilege to represent my country, and I’m humbled to have been selected to represent New Zealand’s Olympic Eventing team in Tokyo,” says Jesse, who grew up in Waikato and moved to England in 2010.
Campbell’s team-mates include leading husband-and-wife duo Tim and Jonelle Price, who also live in Wiltshire, while Bundy Philpott – who is based in New Zealand – will be the travelling reserve.
New Zealand has been a formidable force in the sport of eventing over the years, especially during the era of Mark Todd, Blyth Tait and Andrew Nicholson, and Jesse is proud to follow in their illustrious footsteps. “The NZ Eventing team has an incredible legacy and it has been a childhood dream of mine to ride at an Olympic Games,” he adds.
Following the news of his selection, Jesse expressed his thanks to his wife Georgie and to his parents, for all their support and encouragement, as well as Diachello’s owner, Kent Gardner. “I wouldn’t be in this amazing position without Kent,” he says. “He backed me when I said this was my goal back in 2017, and he has been the most supportive owner any rider could wish for.”
Jesse and the 11-year-old Diachello are certainly ones to watch when the action begins at the Olympic Equestrian Park on Friday 30 July. The pair finished in 11th place in the Kentucky 5* event in April, then finished third in the open intermediate at Nunney International before having a confidence-boosting final prep run at Keysoe International earlier this month.
New Zealand has twice won team gold at the eventing World Championships, and won three individual Olympic eventing titles. They’ll be hoping to add further medals to their tally in Tokyo, and with such a strong team of selected riders they could well achieve that goal. For Jesse, his Olympic selection is not only the realisation of his lifelong ambition, it’s also the chance for him to shine on the biggest stage of all: “I can’t wait to ride at Tokyo and do my country and team proud.”