Proudly Zimbabwean: Julia Norman's switch from British to Zimbabwean Citizenship Sparks Olympic Hopes

Five-star Eventing rider Julia Norman has fervently embraced her Zimbabwean heritage, switching from British to Zimbabwean citizenship in a bid to potentially represent the country at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics in equestrian events. Norman, who is based in Wiltshire, United Kingdom, completed her citizenship process last winter, leveraging her familial ties to Zimbabwe.

Five-star Eventing rider Julia Norman
Julia Norman
Image Credit: Julia Norman/ Instagram

Julia's late mother was a native of Zimbabwe, and her grandparents resided in the country for nearly two decades. This familial connection allowed Julia to obtain a Zimbabwean passport. In an interview featured on the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), Norman expressed her excitement, stating, "We went out to Zimbabwe last year. Nigel Philp, who is involved in Zimbabwe Eventing, has become a good friend. He's very passionate about the sport and helped us meet the Minister of Sport, Kirsty Coventry."

Prior to her trip to Zimbabwe, Julia had met with the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the UK, Colonel Christian Katsande in London, making the process of acquiring citizenship relatively straightforward. Notably, Norman follows in the footsteps of U.S.-based Alexandra Tett, who changed her citizenship to Zimbabwean in 2019 for a chance to represent Zimbabwe at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, leveraging her father's Zimbabwean roots.

The decision to switch from British to Zimbabwean nationality is enticing for serious competitors like Julia Norman. The Great Britain Eventing squad is highly competitive, constituting seven of the current World's top 10. While Great Britain holds the Olympic Team gold, securing a spot on Team GB for the 2024 Paris Olympics is not guaranteed, even for accomplished riders.

In April, Julia, alongside her horse Ardeo Berlin, proudly donned Zimbabwe's flag, finishing fourth in the 4-star at Ballindenisk. Looking ahead, she will also be eligible to represent Zimbabwe at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Le Lion D’Angers. Norman aims to build a national team for Zimbabwe in time for the LA 2028 Olympics, aspiring to attract overseas riders with Zimbabwean heritage.

She emphasized, "We want to build a team for the future, but it takes time. The long-term aim is the LA Olympics. There is a lovely equestrian community out there of riders, really passionate people, but we need to find UK-based Zimbabweans." Despite the limitations of the top level in Zimbabwe being two-star, similar to many other countries, Norman is optimistic about the potential transformational impact on equestrian sports in the African nation.

Returning to Zimbabwe in November, Julia plans to conduct training clinics and enjoy a holiday with her husband Tristan and young son, Max. Eventing, an Olympic sport since 1912, combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping in a triathlon for horses. The Zimbabwe Equestrian Federation, formerly known as the Horse Society of Zimbabwe, governs FEI disciplines in the country.

Camilla Kruger made history as the first Zimbabwean rider to compete in Olympic equestrian events in 2016 at the Rio Olympics with her horse, Sam the Man. Achieving this feat through a top finish in the individual FEI Olympic rankings for Africa and the Middle East, Kruger, who grew up on a Zimbabwean farm, later moved to England to complete her schooling and training.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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