IOC President Bach impressed with “amazing facilities” at World Championship

Sep 17th 2022

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Dr. Thomas Bach expressed his appreciation for the FEI Eventing World Championships 2022 venue, during his visit to the iconic grounds in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA) on Saturday.

Accompanied by FEI President and IOC member Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez and Olympic gold medallist, Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee David O’Connor and Marco Di Paola, President of the Italian Federation, President Bach had the opportunity to tour the venue, take in the cross country competition and meet with some of the sport’s top athletes.

«These are amazing facilities to see and it is a pleasure to experience a real Olympic legacy and sustainability success story,» Bach said. «I’m very impressed by the many measures the FEI has taken to safeguard the wellbeing and the health of the horses, and I am pleased with everything the International Federation is doing to ensure the future of the sport.»

The Rocca di Papa Equestrian Sports Centre, in the heart of the beautiful Parco dei Castelli Romani, was also the cross country venue at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. The cross country course designed by Event Director Giuseppe della Chiesa for the FEI World Championships, featured fences that were also used during the Olympic Games over 60 years ago.

Eventing has been an Olympic discipline since 1912, and the FEI Eventing World Championships 2022 in Pratoni del Vivaro will provide the first qualifying opportunity for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with seven team qualifying spots on offer. More than 22,000 spectators were in attendance during cross country day which saw Germany, USA and Great Britain take the team lead going into the last day of competition. 

“We are very pleased that President Bach could join us here in Pratoni to witness some of best the discipline of Eventing has to offer,” Ingmar De Vos said.

“Eventing has grown and evolved over the years, as evidenced by the incredibly high level of sportsmanship at these World Championships. 

“What has remained, however, is the close knit nature of the Eventing community and the respect for good horsemanship practices. This truly is a sport where the focus is on ability and expertise, rather than gender. Women have participated alongside men in all the FEI Eventing World Championships since 1966 and I know that the amazing atmosphere here in Pratoni has only encouraged our athletes to give the best of themselves and their horses.”

The FEI Eventing World Championships has also put a spotlight on the intergenerational dynamics of the sport. At 22-years of age, Nadja Minder (SUI), Jarno Verwimp (BEL) and Alina Dibowski (GER) will be competing against veteran Eventer Andrew Hoy (AUS) who at 65 years, is the oldest competitor in Pratoni. Hoy, who took part in the 1978 World Championships, is hoping to add to his already impressive portfolio of six Olympic medals and four World Championship medals. 

While there are 13 former Olympic medalists participating at the World Championships in Pratoni, athletes from Lithuania and Thailand are also vying to make their mark in their countries’ first ever appearance in the competition.

“Eventing is a complete test of horse and rider,” David O’Connor explained. “For the human athlete, Eventing puts their relationship with their horse well and truly under a microscope. A rider needs to be able to keep their horse centered and in a strong frame of mind during the Dressage test, and then guide the horse’s natural instincts through the challenges of a cross country course, while maintaining this focus when Jumping.

“It takes a great deal of horsemanship and expertise for the athlete and horse to carry out three completely different tests and this relationship between the human and equine athlete is not one that is forged overnight. Patience and time is required for this mutual confidence to develop, and the athletes train as intensively as they would for any other sport.”

The FEI Eventing World Championships (15 to 18 September) will be followed by the FEI Driving World Championships that will take place from 20 to 25 September in Pratoni del Vivaro.

 

 

 

Photos: Ingmar De Vos, Thomas Bach and Marco Di Paola - ph. Sport e Salute / Ferdinando Mezzelani

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