Former Australian eventing selector chairman James (Jim) Lavington Dunn has died at the age of 67 after a long illness.
Jim Dunn acted as Chef d’Equipe to the Australian Eventing team and his proudest moment was leading in his team to collect gold on home ground at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, a historic third successive Olympic team gold for Australia’s eventers.
In 2004, Dunn was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to equestrian sports in Australia and at Olympic level as a coach, manager, administrator and judge. In the same year, he was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
He was Chairman of Selectors for more than 20 years and during that time formed a close bond with national coach Wayne Roycroft and Australian team veterinarian Denis Goulding.
“The three of us (Jim, Wayne and I) went everywhere together,” Denis Goulding said. “Everywhere we travelled people would hover towards Jim. He was such an iconic figure who was loved by everybody. Equestrian was his life. It meant everything to him.
“If we were away at an event he’d always be trying to get the earlier flight home so he could make jump club,” Dr Goulding said.
Wayne Roycroft first met Jim when he was the course builder at the Gawler Three Day Event and the two became close friends when Jim took on the Chef d’Equipe role.
Wayne Roycroft also has fond memories of his close friend: “I’ll always remember him leading the team into the presentation at the Sydney Olympics. Of all our campaigns this was probably the hardest because expectations were so high, but under Jim’s guidance we were able to win the gold. He was a really honest, good Australian person and a good friend.”
A native of South Australia, Jim Dunn was an FEI 3* Jumping Judge and FEI 4* Eventing Judge and had officiated in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Great Britain, Indonesia and Malaysia. He was Chairman of the National Eventing Committee from 1981 to 2009, President of the South Australian Branch from 1988 to 1994, and a member of the South Australian state branch committee, sitting on its board from 1976 to 1997.
He stood down as Chairman of Selectors in June 2012 because of ill health, but remained on the selection panel under the Chairmanship of Georgia Clifford, who paid tribute to his years of service to eventing. “Jim’s contribution to the sport of eventing is unparalleled. His record is an impressive one having played a hand in every Olympic medal Australia has won since the Barcelona Games.
“Jim’s involvement in the sport has spanned generations and he will be dearly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him,” Clifford said.
Equestrian Australia Chairman Dr Warwick Vale expressed his sympathy to Jim’s family and friends.
“Jim’s long and widespread association with equestrian sport gave people from all walks of the sport a chance to know and work alongside him and there will be countless people today that will be saddened by his passing.
“Equestrian sport in Australia owes Jim a great deal and his extraordinary contribution, particularly in his roles assisting many of Australia’s three day event team rank among this country’s greatest sporting moments. He will be missed and always remembered fondly,” Dr Vale said.
Director of the FEI Eventing & Olympic Department Catrin Norinder said Dunn was well known in the eventing world, both at a national level in Australia and on the international scene.
“He had an incredible knowledge of the sport and was a highly respected judge. His passing leaves an enormous gap in the Australian Eventing world. He will be much missed,” she said.
His funeral will be held on Monday 9 December at 1.30pm at the Heysen Chapel, Centennial Park, 760 Goodwood Road, Pasadena, South Australia.