An­drew the great

Eques­trian leg­end one of four Waipa¯ Queen’s Birth­day Honours re­cip­i­ents

Waipa Post - - Front Page - BY COLIN THORSEN

New Zealand eques­trian leg­end An­drew Nicholson has been made an Of­fi­cer of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit in the Queen’s Birth­day hon­our’s list.

The 56-year-old is one of the world’s top event rid­ers, hav­ing rep­re­sented New Zealand in eques­trian sports in­ter­na­tion­ally for more than 30 years.

He rode in his first Olympics aged 23 in Los An­ge­les in 1984 and has rep­re­sented his na­tive New Zealand in six Olympics and six world cham­pi­onships, win­ning medals of ev­ery colour.

In 1992 An­drew was a mem­ber of the sil­ver medal win­ning event team at the Barcelona Olympics and won bronze in win­ning teams at the 1996 and 2012 Olympics.

He has com­peted at seven World Eques­trian Games, no­tably be­ing part of the gold medal win­ning team in 1990 and as a win­ner of team and in­di­vid­ual bronze medals in 2010.

Be­tween 1995 and 2017 he won nine In­ter­na­tional Four Star events.

A mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery af­ter break­ing his neck dur­ing the British Open Cham­pi­onships in 2015 en­abled him to com­pete against all odds and win the Bad­minton Horse Tri­als in 2017.

An­drew has men­tored and trained a num­ber of New Zealand and in­ter­na­tional rid­ers who have gone on to com­pete and win medals at the Olympic level.

He has pro­vided his time and do­nated mem­o­ra­bilia to fundrais­ing events in the Waikato re­gion, in­clud­ing the Cor­ner­stone Trust in Te Awa­mutu which raises funds specif­i­cally to fi­nan­cially sup­port lo­cal ath­letes onto the world stage.

An­drew grew up on his mother’s — the late Heather Nicholson — farm at Ki­hik­ihi, now owned by his brother, world renowned eques­trian course builder John Nicholson.

An­drew is an ex­am­ple to younger rid­ers to­day that you don’t need to come from a wealthy back­ground to make it to the top in this — or any other — sport.

In his il­lus­trated book Fo­cused he com­ments: “It’s about the work you put in, your self dis­ci­pline and ded­i­ca­tion, and be­ing pre­pared to push your­self out­side your com­fort zone and not be fright­ened to make mis­takes along the way.

“It’s not about win­ning ev­ery time. I have of­ten learnt more from my mis­takes and the bad days than those when it has all gone to plan. The ex­pe­ri­ence has helped me take the next step up.”

One of the things that con­cerns An­drew when he watches some of the tal­ented young rid­ers to­day is that they are con­stantly be­ing watched and in­structed by some­one.

“I think it is vi­tal that as a rider you have the op­por­tu­nity to think for your­self, and in do­ing so maybe make the oc­ca­sional mis­take,” he says. “Of­ten things don’t go to plan and this is how you will de­velop the abil­ity to re­act to such sit­u­a­tions.” An­drew is of­ten asked what still mo­ti­vates him to con­tinue?

“That’s sim­ple re­ally. I mo­ti­vate my­self,” he says. “I have never needed any­one to drive me and I am pretty stub­born and sin­gle-minded in this re­spect.

“The repet­i­tive daily rou­tine involved in train­ing horses re­quires you to be self­mo­ti­vated; the com­pe­ti­tions are the easy bit. Un­der­ly­ing this drive has to be the con­stant chal­lenge of find­ing and pro­duc­ing the young horses, and, hope­fully turn­ing them into win­ners. This I love.”

An­drew moved to Eng­land as a raw 18 year old to fur­ther his eques­trian ca­reer and con­quered one of the most de­mand­ing sports in the world. He and his wife Wiggy and chil­dren Lily and Zach live at West­wood Stud in Lock­eridge, Wilt­shire where he trains the horses.

“My mother Heather taught me any­thing was pos­si­ble in life — you just had to work hard to achieve it,” he says.

Cap­tain Mark Phillips, who wrote the fore­word for Fo­cused was quoted say­ing:

“An­drew has al­ways been a very strong rider, lean, fit and with fan­tas­tic bal­ance, all of which con­trib­uted to his ‘Mr Stick­a­bil­ity’ rep­u­ta­tion.

“The An­drew of to­day is a very dif­fer­ent per­son. His rid­ing has im­proved, par­tic­u­larly on the flat and over the coloured poles, and if An­drew Nicholson says some­thing to­day, you are a fool if you don’t lis­ten.

“As a rider, An­drew now rep­re­sents the whole pack­age. He’s very good with his horse own­ers, has es­tab­lished a great backup team, has ex­cel­lent at­ten­tion to de­tail and gets the most out of the ex­cep­tional team of horses he has de­vel­oped.”

An­drew won Waikato Re­gional Sportsper­son of the Year in 1992 and was in­ducted into the Te Awa­mutu Walk of Fame in 2013.

PHOTO: STEPHEN BARTHOLOMEW/LIBBY LAW PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

FLASHBACK: An­drew Nicholson ONZM and Nereo af­ter win­ning the 2017 Mit­subishi Mo­tors Bad­minton Horse Tri­als, the old­est horse and rider to win the pres­ti­gious event.

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