LONDON, England — When two-time Olympian Samantha Albert retires from Olympic competition after the London Games ends, it is unlikely that Jamaica will field an equestrian in the next two Games based on the gap that now exists in Jamaican equestrian circles.
Anthony Pasmore, team leader for the equestrian team here, thinks unless parents of children involved in equestrian events in Jamaica direct them to the event, as well as help from the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the world's governing body for the sport, it will be a long time before Jamaica is represented at the highest level again.
Julian Hyde, the promising young rider who Pasmore said was the athlete tipped to take over when Albert retired, has given up the sport and while there are some promising youngsters in Jamaica he said more would be needed for them to make it to the next level.
"There is a gap now," Pasmore told the Jamaica Observer at yesterday's third day of Individual Eventing in the 27th Olympic Games at Greenwich Park in London. "The person we had expected to come up and take Samantha's place, Julian Hyde, has migrated and is married and has directed his interest elsewhere rather than focus on his riding."
Pasmore said while there are some good young prospects, "the priority right now with the parents seems to be getting an education and a degree, but if they could combine both it would work very well". He cited riders such as Jason Walter and Jonathon Vaz among them.
"As an FEI judge for show jumping I have encouraged parents to direct their children towards the sport," he said. "I have opened their eyes to the costs involved, as well as the fact you would have to go overseas and maybe we will tie in getting an education while you further your riding."
Pasmore has for years advocated at the highest level for help to further the sport in Jamaica. "I have asked at many years at (FEI) General Asssembles with all the wealthy countries around the world to offer scholarships to Jamaican children with promise but none or limited resources and that is one of my dreams."
He has even taken his pleas to the very top of the sport. "I have expressed this to our president Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, and she had promise to help me with that."
Like most sports, starting early and getting proper coaching is always an advantage he said. "You can start from five years old; the earlier you start on a horse the better you are, especially if you have good tutoring and coaching, you develop a good seat, good position on the horse."
After two Olympics, 41-year-old Albert has decided to retire from that level of competition to concentrate on raising her two sons, who are in London with the rest of her family supporting her every step of the way.