Rio: Jonelle’s on the job

On the eve of the Rio Olympics, we catch up with each member of the NZ eventing team

(Image: Libby Law)
(Image: Libby Law)

Jonelle Price was part of New Zealand’s bronze medal team at the London Olympics, and she was the travelling reserve for Athens back in 2004. Since then, her form (and therefore her FEI ranking) has rocketed to the point she has been rated the world’s top female event rider, and she’s been tipped by many as an individual medal prospect.

From rank outsider to front runner in just four years is pretty impressive: how did Jonelle feel when she got the call to say she was in the team for Rio?

“It feels like more relief. Obviously, I nabbed the last spot at London. Since then we have had a good couple of years and had some good results at top level, so I was hopeful to come into this team as more of a front runner. So it is just a relief to have done that, really. I think they [the selectors] see me as having really proved myself, and that is why they have put me in.”

Jonelle and Flintstar at London, where they 'nabbed the last spot' on the team (Image: Bob Langrish)
Jonelle and Flintstar at London, where they ‘nabbed the last spot’ on the team (Image: Bob Langrish)

Jonelle doesn’t have any great expectations of how Rio will compare to London or Athens.  “I think you just get out there, and it is the Olympic Games… seeing all the other athletes in the village, and the hype and the buzz. Hopefully, Rio will put on a good show, and it will be a memorable one.”

Jonelle’s role in the team will also be different. “In London I was the last person fighting for that spot, and I was more like the baby of the team. I was first to go, so I was never going to be an individual chance. I had a job to do as trailblazer, whereas here I go in with a different expectation and a different role to play within the team. It is just another competition, at the end of the day, and I guess that is what four more years of experience and a few more results does!”

Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo go into the Games as one of the front runners for individual glory (Image: Libby Law)
Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo go into the Games as one of the front runners for individual glory (Image: Libby Law)

Unfortunately, Jonelle’s family is not travelling to Rio; instead her mother and brother will catch up with her just after the Games at Burghley. She does, however, have her husband Tim with her, along with his horse Ringwood Sky Boy, as the travelling reserves. Jonelle was disappointed for Tim that he didn’t make the team, but, in her usual style, is very practical about the situation.

“It was only two years ago that the tables were turned at the World Championships. He was named on the team and I was the first reserve. But I did get in, I got a late call-up and went on to beat them all.

“You certainly don’t wish anyone unwell, but you never know what is around the corner. His job now is to be ready to go should something happen, and he will do that.”

(Image: Libby Law)
(Image: Libby Law)

Fun Facts

  • Birth Place: Nelson
  • Born: 14 October, 1980
  • Height: 162cm
  • FEI World Eventing Ranking: 22