Telegraph Sport speaks to America’s leading polo player, eight handicapper Nic Roldan, ahead of Test against South Africa.
When did you start playing the sport?
I started riding and playing when I was three-years-old and became a professional at 14.
What is your typical training regime?
Training is something I do every day whether on a horse or in the gym. I do gym training about three to four times a week, sometimes more, depending on the time of year and season. Sessions consist of cross training, stretching, quick endurance and speed, plus flexibility is also very important. I also ride up to five times a week and sometimes twice a day. It’s a sport that requires an exorbitant time of dedication and incredible fitness and focus.
Do you see yourself as a trailblazer in raising polo’s profile in the USA?
I don’t see myself as a trailblazer, but as a huge supporter and global ambassador for the sport I love. It’s one in which I see so much potential. One of my goals is to increase awareness and participation for the sport at all levels.
The US sees some of the world’s top players compete through the season. Is enough being done to bring the game to a wider audience?
I don’t think there is enough being done in the States. Don’t get me wrong, we are heading in the right direction and progressively more attention is being paid, but there is much room for improvement. It’s a tough sport to promote, because in general everyone thinks it is so elite, but really anyone can play and all ages too. We just need to educate the masses. I also believe people can be encouraged to get more involved just like in any other sport, simply as spectators, getting behind their favourite players and teams.
Is there one player you look up to and why?
There isn’t really one particular player I look up to, but there are various bits and pieces from several players that I admire. Adolfo Cambiaso will always be the player I look up to in that he is the best in the world – and his focus and drive towards the sport is like no other. He is an absolute machine in every sense.
Can the USA one day rival Argentina at Test level?
Quite honestly? No. As yet we just aren’t producing top polo players like they are. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for now I don’t think we have a chance.
Is horsepower becoming a problem in polo to nurture the best players?
Horsepower is the key to being the best and winning. There are many of 8 and 9-goal rated players that have 10-goal talent, but just don’t have the horseflesh or organization to reach that rating.
How was your Gold Cup experience this year and what did you learn?
Playing the Gold Cup is always a great experience. It’s one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world (and one I have yet to put my name on), so it’s always an honour to participate. However, the only way to be competitive is to have top horses and a strong team. It was tough for us this year, but we had some great fun.
What lengths are you going to achieve 10-goal status?
I don’t for once think I don’t have a chance to get to 10 goals. I feel the next eight years are extremely important. Building a team of horses, further refining my organization and having the right timing. Staying healthy, focused and working hard to succeed. One day I hope to be there.
Do you believe you can one day lift the Argentine Open? Is this your dream?
It has always been a dream of mine and always will be.
USA will play South Africa on Nov 28 at Grand Champions Polo Club, Wellington, Florida. Chukkertv.com will broadcast the Test live.