The new performance director for the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) World Class programme said he is “greatly looking forward” to the journey to the Tokyo Olympics.

Gordon Burton, who is currently a performance advisor at UK Sport, “brings a wealth of experience” to the role, having worked within elite sport for 17 years.

He is the first BEF appointment who is not from an equestrian background, although equestrian and para-dressage were among his five “core portfolio sports” for the London and Rio Olympic cycles.

“I have worked with the equestrian programme since 2009 and grown a deep respect for the performances achieved through extraordinary partnerships,” Mr Burton said.

“My time working at UK Sport has also afforded me the opportunity to see excellent practice in other sporting arenas and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and network with the BEF. 

“It is a very exciting time to be leading the World Class equestrian programme as the challenges and opportunities facing the equestrian disciplines are both huge and ever changing. I am greatly looking forward to the journey to Tokyo 2020.”

The next Olympics will be the first run under new rules – including three-member teams – introduced by the FEI in a bid to see more nations competing at the Games.

BEF chief executive Clare Salmon said the appointment was the result of “extensive collaboration with the Olympic disciplines, who have been working closely with the BEF to design our ambitious plans for the cycle”.

She added: “I am delighted to welcome Gordon to the team as we embark on our journey to Tokyo. We recognise that there are lots of opportunities for us to learn from other elite sports and this is the first appointment we have made where the candidate is not from an equestrian background.

“Gordon’s work with the BEF over seven years and his background in high-performance sport strategy and sports science will be hugely valuable to the programme, as we embark on a more tailored approach to creating a highly regarded performance system.”

Mr Burton will provide leadership, management and “strategic direction” to the World Class programme in eventing, showjumping, dressage and para-dressage, and be responsible for the delivery of the BEF’s performance strategy.

His career started at British Rowing, where he was part of its coaching development programme. He then worked for GB Canoeing before his move to UK Sport. Since the Beijing Games, Gordon has worked as an advisor to many world class programmes and he took secondments with Team GB for the London and Rio Olympics.

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The BEF said the appointment comes as the World Class programme undergoes an “ambitious strategic change”.

“Gordon joins a team of world-leading coaches, practitioners and support staff, who will aim to build upon Great Britain’s London and Rio successes,” said a spokesman.