Eventers to test Rio’s Olympic chops

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The Deodoro cluster in Rio will host equestrian, shooting, hockey, rugby, and the pentathlon.
The Deodoro cluster in Rio will host equestrian, shooting, hockey, rugby, and the pentathlon.

With just a year to go to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, the equestrian setup will get a try-out next month with a 2* level eventing test competition.

Part of Aquece Rio (“Warm Up Rio”), in which the operation of several sports is put to the test, the eventing competition will start on August 6, a day after celebrations in Brazil to mark the one-year countdown to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Representatives from 16 National Federations, including athletes and officials, will travel to the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro to take part in the Observers Programme which runs concurrently with the Test Event.

The event allows for the testing of a wide range of components before the 2016 Games, including technological aspects such as results, scoring and timing, the Field of Play (both the main arena and cross-country), training arenas, stabling operations, sanitary and biosecurity procedures, spectator flows and management, accreditation and media operations.

Anti-doping processes will also be tested, with human and equine sampling being conducted during the event. FEI Vet Committee member Colin Roberts will oversee equine testing, while Peter Whitehead, Chair of the FEI Medical Committee, will oversee human testing systems, as well as assessing medical facilities.

The event also allows for comprehensive testing of the footing. Christian Bauer, the footing advisor appointed by the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, and Professor Lars Roepstorff, the international footing specialist from a scientific perspective, will both be in attendance. In addition to the horses contesting the CIC, a small group of jumping horses will be brought in to test the main arena footing.

Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States of America will be sending delegations to Rio.

Eventing at Brazil's National Equestrian Centre in Deodoro.
Eventing at Brazil’s National Equestrian Centre in Deodoro. © Alexandre Loureiro / CO/Rio

All five Technical Delegates will be present at the Test Event: Tim Randle (Veterinary), Jacques Van Daele (Dressage), Alec Lochore (Eventing), Santiago Varela (Jumping) and Amanda Bond (Para-Equestrian Dressage), along with John McEwen, Chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee, and the FEI Sports Directors of the three Olympic disciplines: John Roche (Jumping), Trond Asmyr (Dressage) and Catrin Norinder (Eventing).

The Test Event will also be attended by 12 International Technical Officials and a large team of National Technical Officials, with the second group including FEI stewards, dressage writers, judging assistants and eventing cross country officials.

The CIC2* competition, which will be contested by local horses, features a cross-country course designed by Pierre Michelet, who also created the track for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy last year.

“As equestrian is one of the first major test events for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games it will play an important role in establishing the Organising Committee’s systems and processes,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender said.

“The test event is a vital stage in the preparations to assess operational readiness, and a huge amount that needs to be tested will be tested.

“There are still some areas that will have to be tested between now and Games time, such as accommodation for athletes, grooms and National Olympic Committees. Another aspect that won’t be tested next month is the arrivals and departures process for horses, as we only have national horses at the test event, but Rio 2016 has an expert and hugely experienced team in place led by Peden Bloodstock which flies horses all over the world, including in and out of Brazil, so we are confident that this process is in safe hands.”

Overall, there will be 44 test events for Aquece Rio, being overseen by Delphine Moulin, Rio 2016’s test events general manager.

The test events will bring together about 7,000 athletes – many of whom will be coming to Rio for the first time – and 12,000 volunteers. Some of the events will be ticketed, while others will not be open to spectators.

Mounlin stressed that it was important to understand the nature of the programme. “The name says everything: it’s a warm-up,” she said. “The athletes and the public need to understand that we are rehearsing in order to stage the best possible Games.”

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