Funding boost for Olympic horse sport

  • Team GBR’s medal haul at Greenwich has helped Olympic equestrian sport to secure an additional £4.5million for the Rio Games in 2016.

    UK Sport funding figures for the Rio Olympiad were announced on 18 December and equestrianism was one of the winners.

    The award — a total of £21.7m for Olympic and Paralympic equestrian sport for the next four-year cycle — places equestrianism as a “priority one” funded sport alongside cycling, rowing, sailing and athletics.

    Andrew Finding, chief executive of the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), said he was “thrilled” with the award, which represented a “significant increase” from the last Olympiad.

    Team GBR’s riders enjoyed their most successful Games to date, winning five medals, three of them gold.

    But sports that failed to perform in London had their budgets cut. Swimming missed its target of five to seven medals, winning just three and was cut by 14.9%.

    Performance director Will Connell said the award “recognised the talents of the riders and horses” and acknowledged the quality of the bid submitted to UK Sport.

    “Now we have the funding figures, we will be able to add the final detail,” he told H&H.

    “We are looking at various areas [about how best the money should be spent].

    “It’s about enhancing the whole support package we provide — in terms of human and animal sport science and coaching,” he added.

    But Mr Connell sounded a note of caution. Although the funding represents a significant increase from the previous Olympiad, it will be considerably more expensive to send teams to the Rio Games than London.

    “To deliver the plan we did in Greenwich in Rio will cost more; flying horses to Rio rather than driving them to London is a significant expense,” he said.

    “But it’s a great way to end the year.”

    Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester said the increased funding was a terrific boost.

    “You only have to look at this year to see what funding has done; it’s changed the face of British dressage,” he said.

    “The fact that more is being granted will hopefully add to the success of 2012.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (28 December 2012)

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