The search is on for this year’s equestrian heroes. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has launched the 2015 edition of its FEI Awards. The prizes celebrate “excellence, courage, commitment and dedication” to the sport in five categories and you can nominate your favourite athletes in each one of them.
The Longines Rising Star Award is open to competitors aged 14 to 21 “who demonstrate outstanding sporting talent and commitment.” It was won last year by 17-year-old vaulter Lamberto Leclezio, the first rider to represent Mauritius in an equestrian World Championship.
The Reem Acra Best Athlete rewards riders who have shown extraordinary skill and “taken the sport to the next level”. In 2014, it went to Dutch showjumping champion Jeroen Dubbeldam, who won individual and team gold at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Riders who have overcome disabilities or personal challenges to perform in the arena are honoured with the Against All Odds award. American Paralympic Dressage rider Sydney Collier, who fights a daily battle with the rare Wyburn Mason syndrome and is blind to one eye, won it last year along with her service dog, Journey.
Best groom celebrates the unsung heroes of equestrian sports, the people who spend their time and effort to take “the best possible care” of competition horses. Last year’s winner was Jackie Potts, who has been groom to William Fox-Pitt for the last 22 years and has four Olympic Games, four FEI World Equestrian Games and eight European Championships under her belt.
The FEI Solidarity Awards recognises an FEI Solidarity or equestrian development project, organisation or person that has “demonstrated skill, dedication and energy in expanding equestrian sport.” In 2014, it went to Singapore-based equine therapy centre Equal Ark, which offers riding lessons to children facing challenges at home or in school.
“Our athletes and everyone working in the equestrian community have amazing track records of success, incredible personalities and fascinating back stories,” says FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “Time and time again as spectators and on television we see sensational victories, but there is so much more to our sport than meets the eye. These awards honour everyone who makes our sport happen, highlighting the true value of horse sport and its contribution to our global society.”
All nominees will be included in the final award shortlist, from which an international panel of judges will select the winners. The five awards will be presented at a lavish gala evening that will take place in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, on November 13, 2015.
The deadline for nominations is August 28, 2015 and you can vote on the dedicated FEI Awards website.
Image: FEI Awards 2014 winners Jeroen Dubbeldam, Melissa Tan (chairman of equine therapy centre Equal Ark), Jackie Potts, Lambert Leclezio and Sydney Collier with her service dog Journey, courtesy of FEI/Liz Gregg.