Former Olympic champion ‘takes sabbatical’ from sport owing to health issues

  • Former Olympic champion Eric Lamaze is “taking a sabbatical” from the sport owing to his health, and handing the reins to fellow Canadian showjumper Beth Underhill.

    Beth is to take over Eric’s string of top horses when they move from the 2008 Olympic gold medallist’s base in Belgium to his yard in Wellington, Florida.

    Eric has been undergoing treatment for a brain tumour for three years; his last competitive appearance was at Spruce Meadows, Canada, in September, when he and his Rio 2016 individual bronze medal-winning ride Fine Lady 5 were on the winning Nations Cup team.

    “I’ve known Beth for many years, and we first rode on a team together at the 1994 World Equestrian Games in Den Hague,” said Eric. “I’ve always admired her determination and winning attitude as well as her dedication to producing the best results for Team Canada.

    “Due to my own health issues, I have to hand the reins over to someone else and I could think of no better candidate than Beth. She’s been to Belgium to ride some of the horses, and we are both excited to see her in a position to compete with top-caliber mounts.”

    Eric will oversee the training of the horses from the ground.

    Beth has represented Canada at Olympics and World Equestrian Games, and with Eric, was on the side that took bronze at the 1999 Pan Am Games.

    “I’m very excited at the prospect of riding for Eric,” she said.

    “We’ve been friends for many years and competed on numerous Nations Cup teams together. He’s also been a fantastic supporter, teammate, and friend to me.

    “While I’m saddened that Eric’s health is forcing him to take a step back from his own riding career, I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to join the Torrey Pines team.”

    At 53, Eric is Canada’s most successful showjumper. He and his 2008 gold medal-winner Hickstead were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame last month.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...