The equestrian test event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games venue has been declared a success.
All aspects of competition were under scrutiny at the Aquece Rio International Horse Trials, which finished at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Centre on Sunday.
The “warm-up Rio” event was an opportunity to test field of play, stabling and cross-country operations. Also tested were results, scoring and timing technology, training facilities, veterinary and medical services, sanitary and biosecurity procedures, anti-doping (human and equine), accreditation and media operations.
An official Observers Programme was run concurrently with the Test Event, with representatives from 16 National Olympic Committees and National Federations attending three days of presentations and meetings.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States of America all sent delegations to Rio, and the general consensus was that the Observers Programme had been extremely informative.
USEF Director of Sport Programs Will Connell said the programme “was probably more beneficial being here without horses than with them, as we’ve able to get on with things and go to meetings”.
Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca, team silver and individual bronze medallist at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, had planned to ride at the test event but his horse Quaint Normand was not accepted at the first horse inspection. Fonseca stayed on-site to support his team mates in the competition.
“I was here three years ago and thought we need to do a lot of work on the place to make it an Olympic venue,” he said, “but I’ve been very impressed with what’s been done, the effort that’s been put into the venue and how amazing it looks already, 12 months out from the Games. And I’ve heard the same comments from everybody.
“For sure things still need to be done, things need to be polished up, but in my view it’ll be a very special Games. It’s the first in South America and it’s going to provide a really important legacy for our continent for all sports, not just for equestrian. The equestrian venue is one of the best I’ve seen and hopefully it will keep going after the Games as part of the legacy, not just for Brazil but for the whole continent.”
Lars Roepstorff, the FEI appointed footing analyst, was in Deodoro to conduct scientific testing on the all-weather footing. “The material and installation definitely has the potential to provide excellent footing for next year’s Olympic Games”, he said, “but it is vital that the correct maintenance is done over the next 12 months, right up to and during the Games. Everything is in place for excellent Olympic competition next year and as it’s a pre-existing equestrian facility, all our athletes – human and equine – will be really well looked after.
“Having seen this venue for the first time back in 2011, the development and progression has been pleasantly surprising, and they deserve great credit for what’s been achieved. There are of course areas that need working on, but it was encouraging that these had already been identified by the venue management team. They’re not big things and are easily curable. If they carry on developing the venue at this rate it will be one of the best Olympic and Paralympic venues we’ve seen.”
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