Interview with Time Magazine, Olympic Edition
1. You have been heralded as a modernizer at the FEI. What do you feel are some of the challenges for the FEI moving forward? What would you still like to accomplish?
• When first elected at the 2006 General Assembly was the first ever contested election in the then 85-year history of the FEI - that in itself was a significant departure from the past
• Elected on a platform for change, while maintaining traditions of the past and celebrating achievements of presidents before
• Key focus: make changes, modernise and introduce new methods, while celebrating the past
• Clean Sport, Transparency, united with National Federations, FEI Solidarity, FEI Family: professional team, highly dedicated volunteer body, atmosphere of co-operation
Still like to accomplish
• Horse transportation and working with OIE to help transform global sport
• As the sport expands globally, our sport can play a key role in human and social development in developed and developing countries
2. What do you hope the FEI can do to widen participation in horse sports?
• Help to expand the sport globally
• Touch the lives of people of all ages, social background and cultures
• Ensure people can compete at every level, so they can rise up through the ranks to elite level and one day represent their country at the Olympics
3. In a 2008 interview with Horse and Hound, you mentioned that there were problems with equestrian sport continuing in the Olympics and that, "Walking away and saying ‘thank God nobody died,’ isn’t good enough.” What is the IOC's attitude to equestrian eventing in particular now? Is it still felt that it's perhaps too dangerous for the Olympics?
• Eventing, along with Dressage and Jumping, has been on the Olympic programme since 1912
• This year we are proud to be celebrating 100 years in the Olympic movement, and in such an iconic location at the heart of the Games
• The value of Eventing, Dressage and Jumping in the Olympic programme is clear, with them being amongst the first sports to sell out for London 2012
• Eventing’s popularity is huge worldwide and is continuing to grow • Between 2008 and 2011, the number of FEI Eventing competitions worldwide has grown by 27%. Last year alone, there were 555 FEI Eventing competitions:
4. Do you think eventing is now safe enough as a sport, or does more need to be done?
• Eventing has inherent risks and in 2010 the FEI’s worldwide Eventing Risk Management Policy and Action Plan was introduced to ensure athletes and horses are not exposed to greater risks than those that already exist in the sport
• The FEI is continuing to closely monitor the sport internationally, so that we can actively reduce the occurrence and consequences of accidents
• Education is key, with safe riding and progressively trained horses a major focus, along with the correct safety equipment and medical and veterinary coverage at Eventing competitions
5. What duty do you feel the FEI has to horse and rider safety? How can the FEI work with the national federations to accomplish this?
• The FEI has a duty to protect both riders and horses, and it does so through education and through the FEI Code of Conduct for the welfare of horses
• The FEI is working very closely with its National Federations and network of national safety officers to ensure safety at every level around the world
6. Was it a fight for the FEI to keep horse sports in the 2012 Olympics? Do you anticipate any difficulty for 2016?
• The IOC conducts a thorough review of the Olympic Games programme after each edition of the Games and of course that applies to all the sports on the programme, not only to equestrian sport
• We have worked tirelessly over the past number of years to ensure that horse sport falls in line with all the IOC requirements, that it is clean, transparent, cost effective and safe
• London 2012 is a milestone for our sport and confirms that we are competing with the other top sports on the number of spectators we can pull in for the Olympics
• Protecting our status in the Olympic Movement is very important to the FEI, and my role as a member of the IOC provides me with the opportunity to promote our sport and our Federation in the future
• We have made great strides in the past 100 years and we are now looking forward to another 100 years of equestrian sport in the Olympic Games, and to celebrating our centenary in Greenwich Park
7. The Olympics is not necessarily considered the most important world competition for equestrian sport. Why should horse sports remain in the Olympics? Do the Olympics and horse sport really need each other?
• The Olympics and Paralympics are extremely important to equestrian sport, to those competing and to those watching
• The Games always bring new achievements, new records and new global interest in the sport
• This year, more than a billion people are predicted to tune in around the world and this will help to highlight the strengths of our sport
• The Games are also about what is to come - they are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the future potential of this sport that we are all so devoted to, and to highlight our stars of the future