Eric Lamaze in major new role: ‘I will not stop until we reach perfection’

  • Former Olympic champion Eric Lamaze has taken on a new role out of the saddle as chef d’equipe of the Canadian showjumping team.

    The 2008 Olympic individual gold medallist is Equestrian Canada’s newly appointed technical advisor for jumping, which includes acting as chef d’equipe.

    Eric takes over from Mark Laskin, who held the role from 2012 until he resigned in November 2021, citing contract issues among the reasons for his departure. Equestrian Canada undertook a review of its jumping high performance programme after Tokyo, including its technical advisor role.

    “I am excited to help lead the Canadian showjumping team to future success in a new capacity,” said Eric, who was appointed by a hiring panel, following an application and interview process.

    “It’s an honour to be named to this position and not one that I take lightly. I look forward to building on the foundation that Mark Laskin laid and am committed to the success of our athletes, both nationally and internationally. I have a strong vision for the sport in Canada and will not stop until we reach perfection.”

    The 53-year-old revealed in November 2021 that he would be “taking a sabbatical” from the sport, owing to health issues, with Beth Underhill piloting his string while he oversees training from the ground.

    Eric is Canada’s most decorated equestrian and holds Olympic team silver and individual bronze alongside his Beijing gold. His major grand prix victories include Calgary, Geneva, Aachen, La Baule and Rome, and he has topped the world rankings on multiple occasions in his career.

    He also claimed individual bronze at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and has four Pan American Games medals to his name, including team gold.

    In 2021, Lamaze was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and awarded the Order of Sport.

    “I would like to thank Equestrian Canada and the hiring panel for putting their trust in me,” said Lamaze, who is based in Florida and Belgium.

    “Fifteen years ago, I made the decision to base myself in Europe where I had the opportunity to compete against the best in the world, week in and week out, and learned through experience what it takes to win at the highest level. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with my fellow Canadian athletes and guide us back to where we belong, which is at the top of the podium.”

    His first duty as chef d’equipe will be at the CSIO4* Winter Equestrian Festival (2 to 6 March) in Florida, which features a Nations Cup leg. The World Championships in Herning, Denmark, in August, will be his first senior championship in the role, as Canada target Paris 2024 Olympic qualification.

    Equestrian Canada chairman Karen Sparks said the organisation is “thrilled” to welcome Eric to the position.

    “[We] are fortunate that he felt the timing was right to take on this challenge,” she said. “We are confident that he can build the national program and podium pathways and be the leader the team needs to be successful on the world stage.”

    EC chief executive officer Meg Krueger agreed, saying, “There is no one with more experience and [such]? a proven track record in our sport than Eric. His knowledge and passion are truly remarkable, and there is little doubt that he is the right choice to lead Canadian showjumping into a successful future.”

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