British fence-building company the Willis Brothers has won the contract to build the cross-country course for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Alan Willis, who was one of the founders of the company more than 40 years ago and who has been involved with building the Badminton course since 1967, said: “We are over the moon, it’s brilliant news for us. We have been involved with three Olympic courses before — Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney — but Sydney and now Rio are the only ones built entirely by us.”

The Rio track will be designed by Frenchman Pierre Michelet and James Willis, Alan’s son, said: “We haven’t worked with Pierre before, so that is one of things I am excited about. It’s always interesting to see how different designers go about things.”

James went out to Rio in early March for the first time, and six of the team will travel to Brazil in July to build the track for the Olympic test event, which takes place in August and is at two-star level.

“I think it’s a very nice site — it’s quite close to the city and has the remains of a track from a Pan Am Games there. It has gentle undulations, and I think Pierre has been quite clever with his use of those. The viewing should be very good for spectators as well,” said James.

He added: “We are trying to source as much material as possible locally, and will use local help as well. We want to try to keep it looking as though it fits in with its surroundings — it’s Brazil, not Badminton, after all.”

Much of the work on the course and the fences for next summer’s Games will take place this winter during the European “off-season”.

The eventing is scheduled for 6-9 August 2015.

Ref: H&H 7 May, 2015