Michael Blake appointed as Horse Sport Ireland High-Performance Jumping Director
- 18 December 2019, 15:21
Horse Sport Ireland are delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Blake as High-Performance Jumping Director (incorporating the role of Chef d’Equipe) of the Irish Senior Show Jumping team.
Prior to this appointment, Michael held the roles of Team Ireland Senior Development Jumping Manager and Assistant Team Manager to the Irish Senior Show Jumping team. Since 2017, Michael has played a key role in the success of Ireland’s senior Show Jumping team, including their recent win at the Nations Cup World Final in Barcelona and their 2017 win at the European Championships. Michael has fulfilled the role of Chef d’Equipe for the Irish Senior Show Jumping team at 18 international shows and Assistant Team Manager at a further 43 international shows.
In his role as Team Ireland Senior Development Jumping Manager, Michael has successfully identified both horses and athletes across the world and given them the opportunity to compete at three, four and five-star Nations Cup competitions. Under his experienced eye, the Team Ireland Development Squad model has successfully broadened Ireland’s pool of talented athletes and horses with on average 28 new combinations making their Nations Cup debut each year.
Prior to his involvement with the senior jumping squad, Michael was involved with the youth squads and was assistant to the Jumping Young Rider Team Manager for the 2016 Young Rider European Championships in Millstreet where Ireland secured the team Gold Medal.
In his role as Horse Sport Ireland High-Performance Jumping Director, Michael Blake will focus on the delivery of the high-performance plan 2020 and on performance targets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, taking responsibility for planning, performance monitoring and selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Speaking after his appointment, Michael Blake said:
“I am delighted to have been selected by Horse Sport Ireland to be the High-Performance Jumping Director and Chef d’Equipe of the Irish Senior Show Jumping team as we prepare for the Tokyo Olympics next August. It is a great honour and indeed a big responsibility to be entrusted with the task of being sole selector of our Olympic team but I will have the back-up of Horse Sport Ireland’s High-Performance Sport Team, High-Performance Operations Manager, Triona Connors and Head of Sport Legal and Governance, Avalon Everett as I give all our top athletes every opportunity to prove themselves for selection.
“I also want to place on record my appreciation of the owners who make their world class horses available to Team Ireland. This 32nd Olympiad is special for Ireland as we send three teams to compete in Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. It is important that Ireland goes as a team to contest the three individual and three team equestrian competitions and we support each other’s disciplines in Tokyo.
“Over the course of the last three years and throughout the Olympic qualification process as Assistant to Rodrigo Pessoa, a great team spirit was established amongst the 39 riders who competed for Team Ireland in show jumping. I want to maintain that team spirit and work it to our advantage. Ireland are the FEI Nations Cup Champions, so we travel to Tokyo as real contenders. I want to thank Horse Sport Ireland for the speedy but very extensive and exhaustive appointment process to decide who would be the Jumping High-Performance Director, it confirms that Ireland is regarded as a very strong Nation when it comes to Show Jumping. My job starts today to prepare us for the Olympics whilst ensuring the development of our athletes and our sport is maintained and improved.”
Horse Sport Ireland Chairman, Joe Reynolds added:
“Horse Sport Ireland ran a robust, transparent and fair appointment process which was independently overseen by Brian MacNeice, Managing Director of Kotinos Partners. The vacancy for the position of High-Performance Jumping Director was published in several different forms with the application deadline closing on Friday, December 6th. We received applications from several different countries and the interviews took place on Monday, December 16th. The interview panel consisted of a representative from Sport Ireland, three Horse Sport Ireland representatives, two representatives from the Rider’s Executive and a representative from Show Jumping Ireland, to ensure a robust and transparent selection system.
“2020 is an important year for Horse Sport Ireland as we start with a clean sheet in the preparation and lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The High-Performance Sport Team at Horse Sport Ireland are integral to the delivery of the jumping programme and will work seamlessly with Michael Blake in his new capacity as High-Performance Jumping Director. I wish Michael all the success in his new role.”
Horse Sport Ireland CEO, Ronan Murphy said:
“I wish Michael every success in this very important role as we build toward next Summer’s Olympic Games. Michael has played an integral part in Team Ireland’s qualification for these Championships and his experience, attention to detail, knowledge of our horses and riders will be invaluable supports to our athletes, owners and stakeholders as we compete for equestrian medals at the Tokyo Olympics.”
Chairman of the Horse Sport Ireland High-Performance Jumping Committee, Gerry Mullins said:
“I would like to congratulate Michael Blake on becoming the High-Performance Jumping Director. He has shown tremendous commitment and expertise with success over the last three seasons as Team Ireland Senior Development Jumping Manager. With an enthusiastic and committed team, medal success at the 2020 Olympic Games is a realistic goal and is within this teams’ grasp.”