Sue Benson is to design the cross-country course for the Pan-American Games. The competition is being hosted by Rio, Brazil from 13 to 29 July 2007 and will act as a qualifier for the Olympic Games Beijing 2008. Benson, who finished second at Badminton in 1979 and has designed courses at Bramham and Boekelo is thrilled to be involved in Rio 2007. “I came away with a good feel for the people and the site,” she told HHO.

The Pan-American Games are a continental version of the Olympic Games and take place every four years. Buenos Aires hosted the first Pan American Games in 1951, but its origins date back to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games when the Latin American representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) proposed the creation of a competition that would include all the countries in the Americas.

Last Friday representatives of the FEI met with members of the Organizing Committee of the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio (CO-RIO), the Brazilian Equestrian Confederation and the Federal Government to discuss the planning of the equestrian events at the next Pan-American Games. Catrin Norinder, Manager of the FEI Olympic and Eventing department, highlighted the legacy both Rio and Brazil will receive from the Games: “The Pan-American Games are of critical importance to us. We are also particularly pleased that the venue will be used as a National Training Center once the Games are over.

Home to the legendary Rodrigo Pessoa, a gold medallist at the Athens Olympics, Brazil has a strong jumping tradition and all the new equestrian facilities at Vila Militar are certain to be of an exceptional standard with 130 new stables, a veterinary surgery and accommodation for riders and grooms.

Sue Benson has recently returned from Vila Militar and will go back regularly over the coming months to follow the progress of the cross-country course construction. Although impressed by the site, she voiced concerns about the amount of work to be done: “It will obviously be a challenge because the site is in its natural state,” she said, “But it is pretty and very suitable with a nice variation of terrain although at the moment it is a bit ‘jungle-like’. It will test my patience and basic technique but I’m sure there will be wonderful craftsmen – I’m not quite panicking yet!”


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