Tag Archives: Paralympic Games

FEI Researches Equine Health and Performance at Tokyo 2020 Test Event

Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Grisors JRA. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

With optimising performance in challenging climatic conditions high on the agenda during the numerous Ready Steady Tokyo test events, the FEI had already put in place a major research study aimed at identifying best practices and management of horses training and competing in hot and humid environments.

Long travelling times and distances, time-zone disruptions, and heat and humidity pose specific challenges to horses and of course to human athletes. Monitoring of the combined effects of all these factors was put in place prior to the horses’ departure from their home countries en route to Tokyo and throughout last week’s equestrian test event in the Japanese capital. Data collected will be used to provide the FEI, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee (TOCOG), as well as National Olympic and Paralympic Committees with detailed information on equine performance in these conditions.

“High level equestrian competitions are increasingly taking place in parts of the world where the climate poses health challenges for both humans and horses,” FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström said.

“The study plays a crucial role in guiding the TOCOG and other Organising Committees on appropriate facilities and support, and will be used to advise and guide athletes and National Federations on the preparation of their horses in the build-up to and during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The study monitored horses before, during, and after their journey to Tokyo, with data collected through under-tail temperature monitors and sensors that measure stable and travelling activity, as well as thermal comfort. SaddleClip sensors were used to record gait, speed, and distance, and heart rate monitors were used on the horses prior to and during competition. The technology for the data collection was made possible through the FEI’s partnerships with Epona Biotec, Arioneo, Equestic, and Polar.

Findings from the study will build on the existing framework for implementing measures to run equestrian sports in hot and humid climates that was developed for the Games in Atlanta 1996 and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. Olympic test events prior to Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008 also included organised monitoring of competing horses.

To ensure that NOCs and NFs are fully aware of the climatic challenges, the FEI included an information session on climate mitigation protocols aimed at minimising the effects of heat and humidity in the official Observers Programme, which ran concurrently with the test event.

During next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, equestrian sport will be held at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park and Sea Forest venues. Baji Koen, which hosted the Olympic equestrian events at the Tokyo Games in 1964, has been extensively refurbished by the Japan Racing Association, while the cross country venue at Sea Forest that will be shared with rowing and canoe sprint is on reclaimed land and will be turned into a park post-Games.

FEI media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Olga Nikolaou
Media Relations Officer
olga.nikolaou@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 56

Georgina Bloomberg Acquires New Horse for Paralympian Sydney Collier’s Tokyo Bid

Sydney Collier hopes to qualify for the U.S. Para Dressage team for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics with All in One. Photo by susanjstickle.com.

New York, NY – July 29, 2019 – Top U.S. show jumper Georgina Bloomberg has been a sponsor of U.S. Paralympic rider Sydney Collier for a year, supporting her in her bid to qualify to represent the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. In early July, Bloomberg purchased a new horse for Collier to show with that goal in mind, the Hanoverian gelding All in One.

“I can’t say enough great things about [All in One] and how excited I am to be working with him to try and earn a spot on the team for Tokyo 2020 and try to earn the gold there,” said Collier. “We have high hopes for him. It’s like the stars aligned for him to come into my life. I’m over the moon to get into the show ring with him. Georgina was willing to help me find and purchase him, which was such a blessing. Without her, I would not have had the resources to be able to do that myself.”

Bloomberg, one of the top U.S. show jumpers, and Collier have been friends for years. “It’s a pleasure to be able to support someone like Sydney,” said Bloomberg. “I want to see her be able to pursue her dreams. It’s nice to be able to help someone who’s working so hard and wants something so badly and deserves to get somewhere, but just has a financial roadblock preventing her from doing that.”

Collier, 21, rides at the Grade I para-equestrian dressage level, in which the tests are performed at the walk only. She began riding as able-bodied at the age of seven but switched to para-equestrian at age 11 after being diagnosed with the rare Wyburn Mason Syndrome. The congenital birth defect caused tumors and a massive stroke and subsequent brain surgery left her with limited use of the left side of her body, completely blind in her right eye, and three-quarters blind in her left eye. Collier’s hometown is Ann Arbor, MI but she lives in Stanfordville, NY in order to train with Wes Dunham at Woodstock Stables in Millbrook, NY.

Collier represented the United States at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen, France and then went on to compete for the U.S. team at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where she finished seventh individually riding Western Rose. In 2014, she won the Against All Odds award from the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

“I love Sydney’s positive attitude,” said Bloomberg. “She doesn’t see herself as having a disability or being restricted in any way. She just loves riding and wants to pursue her dreams. She’s one of the most positive and happy people I’ve met. She’s so enthusiastic about not just the horses, but also about riding for the USA. Every time you see her, she’s in head-to-toe USA gear, and she’s one of those people who is such a great representative of the U.S. both on and off the horse.”

Collier and Dunham found All in One, or “Alle,” through Kai Handt, who saw the horse in Germany. “He sent a video and we were just mesmerized by his walk, which is what you really look for,” said Collier. “You want a walk that draws you in and makes you want to watch the entire test. They’re really like unicorns to find. Our jaws just dropped. Kai was amazing and helped us to get him over here for me to try him.”

All in One is a 10-year-old (Abanos—Dauphina) with experience to fourth level. Collier made her showing debut with him at the Fall Breed & Dressage Show at Maplewood Warmbloods II & III in Middletown, NY on July 26-28. She plans to show a few more times throughout the summer to prepare for the Tryon Fall Dressage CPEDI3* and US Equestrian Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships on September 12 through 15 in North Carolina. She aims to begin 2020 by competing in CPEDIs at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL aiming for Paralympic team selection.

“From the first ride, Alle and I just really clicked,” Collier said. “He has the uphill build that I’ve been searching for my entire riding career. The walk has its own metronome and tempo that is really helpful to my body. He tunes out things that my body unintentionally does, like with my left side not being able to work properly with my right side. This partnership has melded together really quickly and well so far. He’s been such a joy to work with. The other awesome thing is that on the ground, he’s like a big teddy bear. He leans into you and wants all of the cuddles. He’s such a sweetheart and really takes care of me in the saddle. The best part about him being such a great walk horse, is that he really enjoys the walk, which is so hard to find.”

For more information on Sydney Collier, visit www.sydsparaquest.com.

For more information on Georgina Bloomberg, visit www.georginabloomberg.com.

Para Dressage to Be Broadcast Live at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Pictured: Stinna Tange Kaastrup (DEN) and Horsebo Smarties, winners of individual Para Dressage Grade II Freestyle gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018.

Para Dressage is one of five sports that has been added to the live broadcast schedule for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, marking the first time that equestrian fans the world over will be able to watch daily live coverage of Para Dressage at the Paralympics.

The move comes thanks to increased support from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and the demands of broadcasters, with Para Dressage joining canoe, rowing, archery, and shooting to bring the total number of sports with live coverage to a record 21 disciplines from 19 sports.

“We are thrilled to be part of the live broadcast of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and our sport will benefit greatly from this worldwide exposure,” said FEI Secretary General and President of the Association of Paralympic Sports Organisations (APSO) Sabrina Ibáñez.

“The development of Para Dressage is phenomenal, with the number of athletes growing year on year, and being included in the live coverage from Tokyo 2020 will give more parts of the world the chance to discover our amazingly talented Para athletes.”

Para Dressage features from Day 2 to Day 6 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which run from 25 August to 6 September.

“Thanks to the growing interest and investment from broadcasters around the world to screen the Paralympic Games, we have been able to significantly increase the number of sports to be broadcast live for Tokyo 2020,” said IPC Commercial, Broadcasting, and Partnerships Director Alexis Schaefer.

“Our strategy throughout has been to invest all additional revenues generated from TV rights sales back into the broadcasting plan for Tokyo 2020.  This is allowing us to broadcast live nine disciplines and seven sports more compared to Rio 2016, a huge leap forward which will benefit broadcasters and the whole Paralympic Movement.

“Without doubt Tokyo 2020 will have the best, most complete and in-depth TV coverage yet for a Paralympic Games.  In addition to more live TV coverage, we are also investing into delivering far greater short form content for broadcasters to use in the form of highlights, athlete features, and profiles.  With such comprehensive coverage in place we are very confident that viewing figures will exceed the record cumulative audience of 4.1 billion people that enjoyed the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”

“OBS is pleased to deliver extensive broadcast coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and bring even more outstanding, inspirational performances and stories of the Paralympic athletes to millions of viewers around the world,” said OBS Chief Executive Officer Yiannis Exarchos.

FEI.tv will be offering live free-to-air coverage of the Para Dressage competitions at the Longines FEI European Championships in Rotterdam (NED), 19-25 August, one of multiple events where Para athletes can achieve their Minimum Eligibility Requirements for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Dedicated Para athlete profile videos will also be made available on FEI’s digital platforms.

The IPC press release can be viewed here.

Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI General Assembly Votes in Favour of Olympic and Paralympic Rule Changes

Aki Murasato, Executive Director of International Relations with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee. (Richard Juilliart/FEI)

Tokyo (JPN), 22 November 2016 – The FEI General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed format changes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020, which will now go to the IOC Executive Board for final approval in 2017.

Under the new proposals, the number of athletes in national teams will be reduced to three, and the drop score, which previously allowed for a team’s worst score to be discarded, will be removed. The use of a reserve combination for teams will remain in place, but will be even more important and will be a key element in ensuring horse welfare.

A total of 11 of National Federations, out of 107 represented, voted against the proposal – Albania, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland.

Voting on the proposed sport-specific changes to the three individual Olympic disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing – was unanimously in favour.

The vote on the Paralympic formats saw one National Federation – Great Britain – against the proposed changes.

“This was a really important vote for the future of our sport if we are to increase universality in accordance with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said after the vote.

“We need to increase the number of participating nations at the Olympic Games but within our existing quota of 200. Reducing team members to three per nation was probably the only way to boost the number of flags. Of course this now has to be approved by the IOC, but it opens the door to countries that previously could only see the Olympics as a distant dream.

“There were some National Federations that didn’t agree with the proposal, but that’s all part of the democratic process. Now we need to work together to make this a success.”

The proposed changes are detailed below:

Jumping

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, plus one reserve combination, no drop score
  • 20 teams (60 horse/athlete combinations)
  • 15 slots for nations not qualified with a team (maximum one horse/athlete combination per nation)
  • Individual event will now take place before Team event
  • Cut-off score: the exact cut-off and resulting penalty will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations
  • The exact penalty for any horse/athlete combination that is eliminated, or does not complete their round for any reason, will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations

Dressage

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • Each directly qualified team may bring a reserve rider/horse combination, or horse only
  • One individual per nation not represented by a qualified team (no composite teams)
  • Determine Team medals solely through results of Grand Prix Special (no longer a combination of Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special scores)
  • Introduce new “heat system” (including “lucky losers”) for Grand Prix: 18 individuals to qualify from Grand Prix to Grand Prix Freestyle (best two from each of the 6 heats, plus the next 6 with the best overall results)
  • 8 top teams (24 starters) from Grand Prix to qualify for Grand Prix Special
  • Introduce new system for starting order in Grand Prix
  • Conduct Grand Prix Special to music

Eventing

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • One reserve combination per team will be allowed. The reserve combination is an important element of the proposal in order to preserve horse welfare. If a reserve combination is substituted, it will incur a penalty for the team. The exact penalty will be finalised in the Olympic Regulations
  • Maximum of two individuals per nation not represented by a team
  • Order of tests to remain unchanged (1st Dressage; 2nd Cross Country; 3rd Jumping Team; 4th Jumping Individual)
  • Olympic Eventing to take place over three days (Dressage test reduced to one day)
  • Technical level of the three tests to be defined as the “Olympic level”: Dressage and Jumping 4*; Cross Country: 10-minute optimum time, 45 jumping efforts, and 3* technical difficulty
  • Qualification of athletes/horses to be achieved on the same Cross Country technical level to ensure implementation of the recommendations of the FEI Independent Audit in Eventing
  • For the purpose of the Team classification only: any horse/athlete combinations not completing a test can continue to the next test if accepted as fit to compete at the relevant Horse Inspection
  • For the purpose of the Team classification only: penalties for the non-completion of a test for any reason, Dressage =100 points, Cross Country = 150, Jumping = 100
  • Rules for the Individual event remain unchanged

Para-Equestrian Dressage

  • Teams of three horse/athlete combinations per nation, no drop score
  • Each directly qualified team is entitled to bring four horse/athlete combinations, of which three will have to be declared to compete on the team after the Individual Championships test, in which all four will compete as Individuals.
  • Maximum of two individuals per nation not represented by a team (no composite teams)
  • Determine Team medals solely through results of Team test (no longer a combination of Team and Individual test scores)
  • Top 8 per grade from the Individual test to qualify for the Freestyle test
  • Order of tests: Individual Championship test, Team test, Freestyle
  • Team test to be set to music

FEI President Focuses on Unique Qualities of Equestrian Sport at FEI General Assembly

FEI President Ingmar De Vos opened the FEI General Assembly in the Japanese capital Tokyo, delivering the keynote address to almost 300 delegates and focusing on the unique qualities of equestrian sport.

“We all agree that we have the greatest sport on earth and this is for many reasons,” the FEI President said. “We excel when it comes to gender equality, but what makes our sport so great is the unique bond between human and animal, between man and horse. But it is this same unique value which makes our sport vulnerable.

“With the growth of our sport grows also our responsibility to continuously ensure the welfare of our athletes in order to safeguard the integrity of the sport at all times.

“We need to insist on a strict application of our rules. They need to be transparent, clear and not open for interpretation. We need to be irreproachable in our stance and our outlook. These are big challenges.

“There are organisations – increasing in number – that are of the opinion that horses should not be competed or even ridden!

“We need to show them – and the world – that we are not only dedicated to horse welfare but that we are the leaders in that domain. And we also need to educate – to show just how much we do and how committed the equestrian community is to horse welfare. Ignorance creates fear. So we need to show that a true partnership is about trust and respect so that we can bridge that gap and bring people closer to our sport.”

During a packed morning agenda, delegates voted on a number of important issues, including the Olympic and Paralympic format change proposals (see FEI press release here), formats for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 and other sport specific matters. Full details of the main decisions made at the FEI General Assembly 2016 are here.

The afternoon featured a series of presentations, including an update on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games from Aki Murasato, Executive Director of International Relations with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

Mark Bellissimo, creator of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, also addressed delegates, providing an update on the venue that was earlier this month announced as the host for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018.

Speaking directly to the FEI President, Mark Bellissimo said: “We want to let you know that we appreciate how important this event is to the FEI, and how important it is both for us as organisers and the community that we work within. We will do our best not to let you down.”

Nai Yue Ho (SIN), outgoing Chair of FEI Regional Group VIII, who was celebrating his birthday, was made an Honorary Bureau Member of the FEI. And prior to closing remarks, the FEI President thanked the Japan Equestrian Federation (JEF) for their hospitality, commenting on the fact that it had been 25 years since the FEI General Assembly had been held in Tokyo, and in the same hotel. He then made a presentation to Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and Vice-President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, and to JEF Secretary General Dr Yasuhiko Haruta, who also collected a special plaque on behalf of JEF President Dr Genshitsu Sen.

In his closing address, the FEI President said: “This was a very important General Assembly. We took crucial decisions for the future of our sport and I understand that not everybody was happy, but we followed a very democratic process and in the end there was a clear majority. There are no winners or losers in this debate. These new formats give us a huge responsibility and failure is not an option, so we need to work together with all our stakeholders to prepare for Tokyo 2020.”

Timeline for finalisation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic formats:

February 2017 – FEI proposals go to the IOC Executive Board
May 2017 – IOC Programme Commission make recommendations to the IOC Executive Board
July 2017 – IOC Executive Board decides on events and quotas
November 2017 – FEI General Assembly in Montevideo (URU) finalises the proposal for qualification procedures (quota distribution and eligibility)

FEI Media Contacts:

At FEI General Assembly, Tokyo:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

At FEI headquarters, Lausanne (SUI):

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

FEI Celebrates Clean Sport at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup and Smarties, double bronze medallists Rio 2016 Paralympics, grade 1b (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Lausanne (SUI), 23 September 2016 – The FEI is proud to announce that all human and equine samples taken during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games have returned negative, making for back-to-back clean Paralympic games for para-equestrian sport, from both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

This follows the recent announcement by the FEI of back-to-back clean Olympic Games for the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Games.

“We are very proud of our efforts on clean sport at the FEI, working closely with our National Federations and all our athletes, and everyone involved should be proud of our clean Olympic and Paralympic Games record in 2016 and 2012,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “We actively educated our athletes about the importance of clean sport before both Games in Rio and this is proof that our educational campaign is working. It’s the icing on the cake following such a successful Paralympic Games which saw amazing performances from 75 athletes representing 29 nations.”

A total of 38 equine samples were taken during the Games and sent for testing at the FEI’s Central Laboratory in Newmarket (GBR), one of the five FEI Approved Laboratories worldwide.

Human testing, which is conducted by the IPC during the Paralympic Games, also returned 100% negatives for the equestrian athletes that were sampled.

Six days of top level competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympics saw Team GB continue its unbeaten Paralympic record with another team gold, with members Sophie Christensen (grade 1a) and Natasha Baker (grade II) becoming 2016 triple gold medallists when successfully defending their London 2012 titles.

Belgium’s London 2012 champion Michèle George (grade IV) also successfully defended her Individual Freestyle gold, with Ann Cathrin Lübbe (NOR) topping the grade III Individual Championship, and Lee Pearson (GBR) winning yet another Individual Freestyle grade 1b. Sanna Voets (NED), Individual Freestyle grade III, Sophie Wells (GBR), Individual Championship grade IV, and Pepo Puch (AUT), Individual Championship grade 1b, all topped the 2016 podium.

The Games also saw Uruguay field a para-equestrian athlete for the first time, and the host nation won bronze in the Individual Freestyle grade 1a with Sergio Olivia, the first Paralympic equestrian medal for Brazil since 2008.

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Dancing Horses Lead Their Riders to Gold

Grade 1b freestyle podium, L-R: Pepo Puch (AUT) silver, Stinne Tange Kaastrup (DEN) bronze, Lee Pearson (GBR) gold (Jon Stroud/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 16 September 2016 – Three London 2012 freestyle titles were successfully defended in the Para dressage competition of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Friday (16 September).

Belgium’s Michèle George retained hers in the grade IV competition on what was her last championship ride on FBW Rainman, the horse that has taken her to two FEI World Equestrian Games™ titles and three Paralympic gold medals. George beat individual Championship test winner Sophie Wells (GBR) into second place with a score of 76.300% to Wells’ 76.350%. The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar took the bronze.

“I’m overwhelmed at the moment because I really wanted to have that medal,” George said. “I owe this to my horse. He picked me up out of my wheelchair and said, ‘come on, we going to make this work together’. I thought he should stop in beauty.

“At one moment I was laughing because I knew it was my last ride with him in this big arena, in Rio, in Brazil. It was really a dream come true.”

Great Britain’s Sophie Christiansen became her country’s first triple gold medallist of these Games when she won the grade Ia freestyle. Christiansen scored 79.700% on Athene Lindebjerg with team mate Anne Dunham taking the silver and Brazil’s Sergio Oliva winning another hugely popular bronze.

Speaking afterwards, Christiansen said: “It’s amazing. This year has been so up and down so to even get here was a feat in itself. Athene is just a young horse. I didn’t know how she would react, but she felt so relaxed with me today I knew we could do it.”

The third successful defence belonged to grade II rider Natasha Baker (GBR). She took her third gold of the Games on Cabral with a score of 77.850%.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “I actually can’t believe it. It is just a dream come true. For our last test together, I just think it was magical. It’s amazing. He deserves to go out with a bang.”

The Netherlands Rixt Van der Horst was second while a clearly delighted Steffen Zeibig (GER) took the bronze medal, the first individual Paralympic medal of his career.

A new champion was crowned in the morning when The Netherlands’ Sanne Voets produced a brilliant ride to win the grade III title on Demantur. Riding to music by top dance DJ Armin van Buuren she scored 73.850 to finish just 0.05 of a point ahead of Norway’s grade III individual Championship test winner, Ann Cathrin Lübbe. Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobbson was third.

“This is what it feels like,” she said, quoting the title of one of van Buuren’s biggest hits. “This is a feeling I can’t describe. There are no words for this.

“It felt really good and I believed when we got here that if I do everything right there is no one that can beat me. And everything went right.”

And finally, Lee Pearson (GBR) regained his grade Ib freestyle title, the 11th Paralympic gold medal of his career, which stretches back to Sydney 2000. Riding his world championship horse Zion, Pearson scored 77.400% ahead of Austria’s grade Ib champion Pepo Puch. Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup came third, collecting her second bronze of these Games.

“It’s a dream come true, honestly,” said an emotional Pearson after his ride. “I love that horse.

“I’m riding for me today and my horse. He wants to show his power and expression and he did that. I’m just grateful to him and grateful to everybody who has helped me since 1998 when I chose this path. I wanted to go in there powerful. I wanted to go down that centre line like we own it. I wanted to say to the judges, ‘we are here’.”

The end of a brilliant six days’ Para dressage saw Great Britain top the medal table with seven golds and four silvers. The Netherlands were second with one gold, two silvers and four bronzes, followed by Austria, Belgium, and Norway, each with one gold and one silver.

Full results available here.

By Rob Howell

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Great Day for Great Britain as Three Golds Pour In

Natasha Baker (GBR) takes the gold, grade II individual test (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 15 September 2016 – Following superb wins by British riders in the grades II and Ia individual tests at the Olympic equestrian Centre in Deodoro on Thursday (15 September), Great Britain have won the overall team championships of the Rio 2016 para dressage competition.

The team have won every Paralympic team competition since the sport was introduced to the Games in Atlanta 1996 and remain undefeated in European and World championships too – a total of 18 team titles.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Great Britain’s Chef d’Equipe Sarah Armstrong. “I couldn’t have wished for a better result and the guys have been great.

“When I took on the role in November I took a massive personal risk. They were coming off the back of a home Games and it was a big ask to return this and improve on it but I just knew that the athletes, the horses and the amazing support team that we have, I just knew that we could do it.”

The team, made up of Sophie Christiansen and Anne Dunham (both grade Ia), Natasha Baker (II) and Sophie Wells (IV) had a combined score of 453.306 to finish 20 points ahead of Germany in silver (433.321) with The Netherlands in bronze (430.353).

“It’s very exciting,” said Dunham, who has now won five team titles with the team since starting her Paralympic games career in Atlanta 1996. “The one horror that all of us have at the moment is being on the team that doesn’t actually win the team gold medal. But we won it, and we won it in style.”

The team result rounded off a good day for Great Britain, starting with Baker’s win in the grade II individual test. Riding Cabral she scored 73.400% to finish just short of two points clear of The Netherlands’ silver and bronze medallists – Demi Vermeulen, and Rixt Van der Horst.

The win was all the sweeter for Baker as it follows her defeat to Van der Horst at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games™ (known as WEG) and the 2015 FEI European championships. In 2014 she was the strong favourite for gold but Cabral was spooked by the TV cameras as he entered the arena.

“I’m so happy. I’m still shaking. I’m still crying,” said Baker. “I was so worried he was going to come in here and do a repeat of WEG. I’m just so proud.

“I just love him so much; he means the absolute world to me. I said to him as we were trotting round in the 10-minute box: ‘Just trust me JP, just trust me,’ and he did. He just worked with me and felt so relaxed. It wasn’t the best test we’ve ever done but I’m just over the moon with him.”

Christiansen won the grade Ia individual title on Athene Lindebjerg with the top score of the week so far, 78.217%. Team mate Anne Dunham, competing in her fifth Games was second, and there was a hugely popular bronze for Brazil’s Sergio Oliva, his country’s second Para dressage medallist after team mate Marcos Alves took two bronzes in Beijing 2008.

“This is surreal at the moment,” said Christiansen. “I’ve had a change of coach and just injury after injury and up until last week, I didn’t even know which horse I would be bringing.

“I’ve always wanted to do my best at everything I put my hand to – academics, sport. It’s going to sound big-headed but I think you have to have more than talent to stay at the top.”

“For me it is a dream come true,” added Oliva. “I have worked for more than 12 years to get this bronze medal so for me it means gold. I’ve worked hard to find the good combination – the Two Hearts – which to me means one heart, and to get a medal in my home country is amazing. I don’t have any words. I love this. I love this moment. This is a dream.”

Full results and live scoring available here.

By Rob Howell

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Hart Qualifies for Freestyle as Team Competition Concludes at Rio Paralympic Games

Rebecca Hart and Romani (Alexandre Loureiro/Stringer)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Following five days of Team and Individual tests, Paralympic equestrian team competition concluded Thursday afternoon at the Deodoro Equestrian Center. Rebecca Hart was first down centerline for the U.S. Team in the Grade II Individual test, scoring 67.714%. In the Grade Ia Individual test, individual competitor Roxanne Trunnell produced a score of 69.565%, while team representative, Margaret McIntosh, scored 66.217%. The U.S. finished 12th in team standings. Great Britain secured their 10th consecutive Team Gold medal, having topped the team competition since para-dressage’s inception at the Paralympic Games in 1996. Germany won Silver, while The Netherlands took Bronze.

The Grade II Individual tests kicked off Thursday morning at the Deodoro Equestrian Center. Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and Romani, her own 2002 Danish Warmblood mare, executed a respectable test and qualified for Friday’s Freestyle. Though the pair never quite found their rhythm, it was a clean test that placed them ninth in the class.

“It was not the test that I wanted so I am disappointed. Everything is a learning process though and you go with what you have at the moment; we did the best we could with it. I couldn’t have done anything differently, it was just not our moment,” Hart explained.

Speaking to her experience at her third Paralympic Games, Hart said, “It has been wonderful. It’s been a pleasure to be here in Rio where everyone has been so hospitable, welcoming, and very gracious.”

Riding as an Individual for the U.S. in the Grade Ia Individual test, Trunnell delivered a solid test aboard Royal Dancer, Julia Handt’s 2005 Westphalian gelding. The pair overcame a bobble during the first centerline to perform a harmonious test that placed them 10th in a very competitive field.

“I thought the test was good,” said Trunnell. “Royal was a good boy, especially in the free walk. We have been working on relaxing and he just flowed with it. Compared to the Team test, he felt more relaxed in the arena.”

This was Trunnell’s first Paralympic Games and she commented on the event, saying, “It is also Royal’s first Paralympics so it’s nice that we are going through it together. It’s not something I could have ever imagined, there are so many more people here than I expected. The crowds have been really respectful of the lower grades which we don’t always get, so that has been really nice.”

Riding as the final member of Team USA, McIntosh and her own Rio Rio, a 2006 Rheinland mare, placed 20th in the Grade Ia Individual test.

“The weather was so beautiful today in comparison to how hot it has been, so my horse was very happy out there,” said McIntosh.

Competing in her first major championship of any kind, McIntosh stated that while the actual competition experience was similar to a normal horse show, the exciting part of the Games for her has been staying in the Athlete Village. “I am in awe of the courage, determination, and effort that these athletes put into their daily lives, let alone what it takes to compete at this level and excel at their own sports. It’s been overwhelming to walk around the village and to see so many vibrant people at the top of their game.”

Live and detailed scores

From the USEF Communications Department

Emotional Scenes as Wells and Puch Reign in Rio

Rio 2016 Paralympics Grade IV podium – gold Sophie Wells (GBR), silver Michèle George (GER), bronze Frank Hosmar (NED) (Liz Gregg/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 14 September 2016 – There were emotional scenes at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro on Wednesday as Austria’s Pepo Puch and Great Britain’s Sophie Wells were crowned the latest winners of the Rio 2016 Para dressage competition.

Puch won the grade Ib individual medal, while Wells took the grade IV individual title.

Wells, riding Valerius, scored 74.857% to finish just ahead of Belgium’s London 2012 winner Michèle George, with The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar taking the bronze. The win comes after Wells has lost out to George at both the London 2012 Games and the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2014.

“I’m crying a lot,” she said after collecting her medal. “It was pretty good. We couldn’t have given any more. I’m just so proud of him. We’ve worked really hard to get there.

“There are no words that can describe how I’m feeling right now. Definitely a sense of pride (in) my horse, my support team, and that we actually went and did it in the arena when it mattered. I can’t believe it. It brings back a little bit of what we didn’t get on Pinocchio in London and this is for him as well.”

George was clearly pleased with her silver but admitted to thinking she had won. “I’m not disappointed,” she said, “but I really don’t understand that I am second. I really had a great feeling. When I finished the test I felt, ‘yes, this was it.’

“Unfortunately, the five judges weren’t thinking the same as me. I’m really happy and I will be back next time, I can assure you.”

In a week which has seen winners sometimes decided by fractions of a point, Puch’s one-point win over Great Britain’s Lee Pearson seems even more impressive. Riding Fontainenoir, Puch scored 75.103% to Pearson’s 74.103%. Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup took the bronze.

“Amazing, amazing, amazing,” said Puch. “The horse was really good, but with the wind and some babies crying, the horse was looking outside, but I could catch him. I had him on my side.

“He was really good and I was so happy. With the positive feeling comes the emotion and with the emotion it’s not easy to handle the movement in my body. He was helping me. We were working four years for this day. The first day of London was the first day of training for Rio.”

Fontainenoir is known at Puch’s home as Fondy Blondy. “He’s the blackest blond horse ever,” said Puch. “His ex-owner says he’s in the wrong body. He wants to be a dog and wants to be with you all the time.”

Pearson was also happy with his silver, his 13th Paralympic medal in a career that started back in Sydney 2000. “I think the best man won on the day,” he said.

“The standard is tough. It has been up to London and since then. My aim was to go home with a medal so I’m over the moon.”

There was a dramatic moment half way through the grade Ib competition when Canada’s Ashley Gowanlock fell from her horse after it bolted as they were leaving the arena. Gowanlock was assessed by the Rio 2016 medical staff and found to have no serious injuries before being transported to hospital for further testing as a precaution.

The individual Championship tests conclude on Thursday (15 September) with the grades II and Ia competitions. The overall team champions will be announced at the end of the day as well. Denmark currently leads that competition ahead of France and Australia, but with more riders from more teams due to ride, that could all change.

Full results and live scoring available here.

By Rob Howell

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Sydney Collier and Western Rose Place 7th in Grade 1B Individual at Rio Paralympics

Sydney Collier and Western Rose – photo by Lindsay Y. McCall.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – September 14, 2016 – The 2016 Rio Paralympic Equestrian competition continued Wednesday at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center with the Grade 1B division riding their Individual Championship Test for a chance at a medal. The youngest rider in the Rio Equestrian Paralympics, Sydney Collier of Ann Arbor, MI, and Wesley Dunham’s Western Rose improved on their Team Test placing ending up 7th with a 67.665%. Collier commented, “I am so happy and proud of my ride today. I can’t stop smiling. My mare Rosie was a superstar and we had a top 7 finish. Seeing my name up on the jumbotron made me so emotional and I can’t wait to see what amazing things I have coming up in my future. Overall it’s just an honor to be here in Rio competing with the best of the best and representing our country.”

Winning the Gold Medal in Grade Ib was Austria’s Pepo Puch riding Fontainenoir to a score of 75.103%. In Silver Medal position was Great Britain’s individual rider Lee Pearson riding Zion for a score of 74.103%. In the Bronze Medal position was Denmark’s Stinna Kaastrup riding Smarties to a score of 73.897%.

Thursday we have three riders riding for the individual championship – Rebecca Hart up first riding the Grade II test at 9:54 AM. In the Grade IA division we have at Margaret McIntosh at 3:23 PM and Roxanne Trunnell at 4:22 PM.

The 2016 Paralympic Equestrian Games continue at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center.

The Equestrian competition runs through September 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For more information about the U.S. Paralympic Equestrian Team, please visit United States Equestrian Federation at www.USEF.org, the United States Equestrian Team Foundation at www.USET.org, or Team USA at www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Sports/Equestrian.

For more information about the 2016 Paralympic Equestrian competition, please visit www.rio2016.com/en/paralympics/equestrian.

By: Eleanor R. Brimmer

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org or contact USPEA President Hope Hand by e-mail: hope@uspea.org or by phone: (610)356-6481.