SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s only Olympic gold medal equestrian and 2012 flag bearer Rodrigo Pessoa criticized a new coach’s decision to leave him off the host nation’s 2016 show jumping team on Wednesday.
Pessoa, 43, who took home individual gold from Athens in 2004, will instead serve as an alternate after switching horses mid-way through the selection process.
“I do not agree with the decision of the trainer to place me as an alternate and I am ready to contribute to the Brazilian team as I have done for the last 25 years,” Pessoa said in a statement, calling the opportunity to compete at home “a dream.”
Pessoa, the son of fellow Brazilian equestrian Nelson Pessoa, had hoped to break Brazil’s record for number of Olympic appearances as Rio would have been his seventh Games.
The Brazilian equestrian federation said American trainer George Morris had left Pessoa off the team because he was not one of the top horse and rider combinations. Brazil hired Morris, who served as the United States chef d‘equipe from 2005 until 2013, in January.
The horse Pessoa had his hopes on for the Games, Jordan, was injured during the selection process. Pessoa said the mare Cadjanine, a veteran of the London games, was ready.
Representing Brazil in show jumping instead are Alvaro “Doda” de Miranda, Eduardo Menezes, Pedro Veniss, and Stephen Barcha, the Brazilian federation announced on Monday.
Equestrian events will be held in Rio from August 5-21.
Reporting by Caroline Stauffer, editing by Pritha Sarkar