The Olympic site for the equestrian events at Rio 2016 received positive reviews following last week’s test event (6-10 August).
Only Brazilian combinations took part, in a cost-cutting mission after national federations “felt they could learn as much by being on the ground as they could by bringing horses” .
A team of British observers attended the CIC2* event at Deodoro Park, including eventing chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner and British Equestrian Federation (BEF) performance director Dan Hughes, who said “initial impressions are good”.
“The Rio 2016 staff and volunteers had clearly worked wonders in the past few weeks to pull everything together to make the test event a success,” he told H&H.
“The venue itself is impressive — it is a good size, well laid out, yet has a feeling of space.
“The stables, training arenas, vet clinic, storage areas, grooms accommodation and other functional areas are all within easy reach.”
He added that it was not yet all in place but that the venue “works”.
“There is still much to be built, facilities to be maintained, volunteers to be trained, and planning to take place. But the good news is that the important things are well on the way,” he said.
Former BEF performance director Will Connell, who is now the director of sport programs at the United States Equestrian Federation said the progression had been “pleasantly surprising”.
“There are of course areas that need working on, but it was encouraging that these had already been identified by the venue management team,” he added. “They’re not big things and are easily curable. If they carry on developing the venue at this rate it will be one of the best Olympic and Paralympic venues we’ve ever seen.”
Swedish rider Ludwig Svennerstal, who hopes to compete at next year’s Games, told H&H he was “very impressed” with Deodoro Park.
He travelled there as a rider representative together with the Swedish chef d’Equipe Staffan Lidbeck, and representatives from the Swedish Equestrian Federation and the Swedish Olympic Committee.
“I was pleasantly surprised, the site had come on a lot further than expected,” he said.
“It made me more excited and motivated to ride there next year. There were no problems, the course was quite up and down, but looked beautiful.
“It was hotter than average for this time of year [30 degrees] but the horses coped well and the stables were cool.”
The CIC2* competition featured a cross-country course designed by France’s Pierre Michelet, who will be in charge of the 2016 track. The event was won by Marcio Jorge and Coronel MCJ.
“The Rio 2016 legacy will be spectacular,” said Brazilian eventer Marcio. “It will be a great incentive to get a new generation into the sport.”
The test event allows for testing of results, scoring and timing, the field of play, training arenas, stabling operations, sanitary and biosecurity procedures, spectator flows and management, accreditation and media operations.
Tim Hadaway, FEI director, games and championships, also felt that the test event had been beneficial.
“We’ve seen great progress with infrastructure completed in time for the test event and an efficient competition delivered”, he said.
“However there is still a lot of work to do to scale the venue up for next year and to ensure the standard of facilities, services and general experience for our human and equine athlete is of a true Olympic standard in 2016.”
Lars Roepstorff, the FEI appointed footing analyst, was in Deodoro to conduct scientific testing on the all-weather footing.
“The material and installation definitely has the potential to provide excellent footing for next year’s Olympic Games”, he said. “But it is vital that the correct maintenance is done over the next 12 months, right up to and during the Games. Everything is in place for excellent Olympic competition next year and as it’s a pre-existing equestrian facility, all our athletes — human and equine — will be really well looked after.”