Photos by Libby Law
While our highly regarded equestrian athletes weren’t fortunate enough to bring home anticipated Olympic medals, their performances were a reminder of the depth of talent and undeniable class and talent our riders possess.
Local eventer Clarke Johnstone was hurled into the spotlight as he momentarily sat within reach of both team and individual gold.
However, as is the nature of the sport, rails down in the show jumping round can prove very costly, but are no reflection of the impressive performance throughout the entire event. With world class athletes like Mark Todd, Andrew Nicholson, Blyth Tait and Vaughan Jefferies having trail blazed the sport, now the next tier of professionals such as Jock Paget, Tim and Jonelle Price and Clarke Johnstone are the latest to provide inspiration for other aspiring world class champions.
Nineteen-year-old Jackson Bovill is based in Matangi with his mentor Clarke Johnstone, and is striving to impress on the world stage. This month we profile Jackson as our Pathway to Podium athlete.
Name: Jackson Bovill
Career path: I am currently a first year Waikato University student studying towards a Bachelor of Communications majoring in public relations and marketing.
Ranking in your sport?
Current NZ Ranking: Under 21: 1
Current world ranking: Open: 198,
Under 21: 9th
List of achievements/titles?
– 1st New Zealand under 21 Series 2015/2016
– 1st New Zealand under 21 ODE Championship 2016
– 2nd New Zealand under 21 3DE Championship 2015
– 2nd New Zealand ODE (open age) CIC2** 2015
– Current Member of New Zealand talent ID squad
What are your short-term goals?
To be selected for the New Zealand team for the Oceania squad 2017 and to perform at targeted national titles, including National ODE under 21 and open championships. National 3DE under21 and open championships, and Melbourne 3DE under 21 championships,
What are your long-term goals?
Senior Oceania team, Adelaide CCI, 4*,
Campaign in Europe, 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 2022 World Equestrian Games.
What is required to reach these goals?
It is important to focus on the small immediate goals and by achieving these the bigger picture will fall into place. Performing well at targeted events will be the stepping stones to success at international events in the future.
How did you first get involved in your sport?
I first started riding when I was 10 years old. I started with basic farm riding and going to my local pony club and had a go at most disciplines through the years, but eventing has always been my passion.
What previous sports have you been involved in?
Although equestrian has been my main sport, I have also done some extra on the side; completing one half marathon and aiming towards another this November. I also played hockey and tennis through my school years which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What has been the biggest game changer for you?
Easily the biggest game changer for me has been the opportunity to work and train under Clarke Johnstone, world number nine and Rio Olympian. I took a gap year after school to do it full- time and now continue part-time around university and in my holidays. The knowledge and skills I have learned in my time with Clarke I can’t put a price on. It has helped propel me to achieve my current results and get me to where I am today, and is aiding me in my journey to reach my future goals.
What is the highlight of your time in the sport to date?
The current highlight would be winning the National Under 21 title 2016 after only just stepping up to that grade this season.
What is your greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge I am facing is to find balance in life, it is very easy to eat sleep and breathe eventing and I have to make an effort to take a step away and do my university work and socialise outside the sport.
What is the greatest misconception about your sport?
Easily the greatest misconception is that the horse does all the work, it obviously isn’t as physical as some sports but a great amount of skill and technique is needed. It can be seen as a continuous journey of learning to achieve harmony and the skills required in top level eventing.
What does your training involve?
My training varies from week-to-week and depends on my competition schedule and what my weak points are. Every week I have to fit in a day off, a fitness run and then dressage schooling or jumping the other days. I spend a lot of weekends away competing from October through to May.
What motivates you most?
One of my primary motivators personally in eventing is to look back over the past years and the journey I have been on, to see growth, results and development, and to then be able to look forward and see my goals and have a pathway to strive towards. This gives me an immense amount of motivation and drive to continue doing what I love.
What does it mean to be part of the Pathway to Podium programme?
I am a first year Pathway to Podium member and the opportunities provided are second to none. The range of talks, workshops and support help an athlete’s performance and life in general, including, strength and conditioning training, nutrition and drug-free sport. Sponsorship is already making a huge impact on my sporting endeavours as I begin to grow as an athlete.
Who are your sponsors and the team around you?
I have an awesome team and it continues to grow and develop to help me achieve my goals. The biggest support comes from my parents, who are there to help and support me week in and week out. My great mentor and coach, Clarke Johnstone is consistently helping me achieve my goals and strive to improve. And finally my sponsors Dynavite who provide me with top quality products for my horse so we can perform to the best of our ability.
Sum up with what motivates/drives you to succeed?
In eventing a huge driving force behind my will to succeed is the growth and bond between my horse and I as we step up grades, and achieving results at major events. The feeling I gain from this is something I want to continue throughout my sporting life.
The nationwide Pathway to Podium programme includes 45 Waikato pre-high performance athletes selected by their National Sport Organisation (NSO) and aims to recognise and help prepare them for life as high performance athletes. Waikato Pathway to Podium is led by Sport Waikato, and is part of the national Pathway to Podium programme established by High Performance Sport New Zealand and Sport New Zealand.