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Rodrigo Pessoa appointed Senior High Performance Director of the Irish showjumping team

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Photo (c) Horse Sport Ireland. Rodrigo Pessoa. Photo (c) Horse Sport Ireland.

Horse Sport Ireland, the Governing Body for Equestrian Sport in Ireland, are delighted to announce that Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa has been appointed Senior High Performance Director (incorporating the role of Team Manager/Chef d’Equipe), of the Irish showjumping team.

A former Olympic, World Cup and World Champion, Rodrigo Pessoa is one of the most successful showjumping riders in modern history. He holds three Olympic medals - one gold and two bronze and was the winner of the World Cup final three years in-a-row from 1998 to 2000 with the stallion Baloubet Du Rouet. A glittering career also includes more than 70 top-level Grand Prix victories, two gold and two silver medals in the Pan American Games and multiple Nations Cup appearances for his native Brazil.

Forty-four year-old Rodrigo is the son of showjumping legend Nelson Pessoa, and both Rodrigo and his father have had strong connections with Irish showjumping throughout their illustrious careers. Nelson Pessoa achieved worldwide success riding a number of Irish Sport Horses, including the gelding Special Envoy (ISH), with whom Nelson finished as runner-up in the 1991 World Cup final at Gothenburg in Sweden. Rodrigo Pessoa later took over the ride of Special Envoy from his father and together they went on to record a top 10 finish in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

In 2014, Rodrigo Pessoa, who speaks English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, was elected by his fellow riders as athlete representative on the FEI (World Governing Body for Equestrian Sport) Jumping Committee. Rodrigo is a former President of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC). The IJRC was formed in 1977 by a group of 25 international riders that included David Broome, Raimondo D’Inzeo, Paul Schockomöhle and Rodrigo's father Nelson Pessoa. The aims of the IJRC include, promoting the image of showjumping, sportsmanship and fair play, to support national and international associations and international showjumping organisers and to put the riders views in matters of rules and regulations before the world governing body. Rodrigo Pessoa has also been a coach and trainer to many top riders around the world. In 2012, Rodrigo Pessoa was chosen as Brazil's flag bearer at the Olympic Games in London.

Rodrigo Pessoa was awarded the 2010 Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Diploma for his generous act of fair play during the World Championship Final Four at the World Equestrian Games. He was competing for the individual gold in the final four where competitors ride each others horses and he gave advice to one of his fellow competitors on how best to ride Rodrigo's own horse Rebozza.  His generous spirited gesture was acknowledged by the spectators in Kentucky and by showjumping fans around the globe.

Speaking after his appointment, Rodrigo Pessoa said: "I am looking forward to working with this very talented group of riders and horses in the near future. At the end of August we have the European Championships in Sweden where we want to have a strong team ready to battle for top positions. I want to thank Horse Sport Ireland for giving me this opportunity and hope that we will be successful together."

In his role as Irish Show Jumping Senior High Performance Director, Rodrigo Pessoa will focus on the delivery of the high performance plan 2017/2020 and on performance targets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games campaign and will take responsibility for planning, monitoring, selection and performance at international level for European, World and Olympic competition.

Gerry Mullins, Chairman of the HSI Senior Show Jumping High Performance Committee said: "On behalf of the HSI Senior Show Jumping High Performance Committee, I welcome the appointment of Rodrigo Pessoa and I hope it augurs well for Team Ireland in our bid to qualify a team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

Horse Sport Ireland interim CEO James Kennedy added, "I wish Rodrigo the very best of luck in his new position and we look forward to a new chapter in Irish showjumping with a shared goal of delivering medals."

Source: Press release from Horse Sport Ireland

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