Sam Griffiths named as NZ eventing team’s new coach

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Australia’s Sam Griffiths and his 2014 Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh in action.
Australia’s Sam Griffiths and his 2014 Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh in action. © Steph Freeman

Australian eventer Sam Griffiths has taken on the role of head coach for New Zealand’s eventing team.

The 2014 Badminton winner and two-time Olympian has been based in Britain for the past two decades and will step back from high-level international competition. He is excited about his new role: “New Zealand has a lot of very talented riders and I know quite a few of them so feel I have a good rapport with them.

“They are such talented riders and if everything comes together we should be able to get some good results. I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Griffiths, who has been a professional eventing rider since 1995 and twice represented Australia at World Championships, says he was never the most talented rider. “I really had to learn how to manage myself and what had to be done to be competitive to a high level. I bring that experience and knowledge, knowing how to find a way to work through a challenge to get to where you want to go.”

Coming into an established team and gaining that understanding between rider and coach will be his first challenge. “Then we can get on with converting good training into winning medals. I feel honoured to get the role and excited about the future of it.”

Griffiths lives with partner Hayley Lippiatt and his six and eight-year-old children on a 19-acre equestrian property in Dorset.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) high-performance general manager Jock Paget has also announced Fiona Tibone as eventing’s new high-performance manager. He said both appointments follow “an extensive debrief following the Tokyo Olympic Games and understanding the context we are in within the high performance programme”.

Tibone has strong New Zealand connections, including as groom for Blyth Tait in 1990 when he became world champion in Stockholm, and with the team again at the Olympic Games at Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. She has an extensive equestrian background with hands-on experience across all layers of the sport including riding, coaching, as an owner, logistics and in leadership, with a real passion for producing young horses.

She has also worked with teams from the United States and Italy at pinnacle and championship events.

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