Greenwich arena surface is ready and waiting for the Olympics

  • The arena surface at Greenwich has been given the thumbs-up by International Equestrian Federation (FEI) this morning.

    Sports director for the organisers, LOCOG, Debbie Jevans said: “With support from the FEI, the contractors and our own team have done a great job to get the make-up of the surface right, and we now believe this will be a world class surface for the equestrian athletes in a stunning Olympic venue.”

    The surface for the test event last summer caused some complaints from riders, with showjumpers describing it as “puddingy”.

    The specification of the surface was changed and an assessment recently took place on the main arena, involving two high-level competition horses that worked on the surface and jumped fences.

    LOCOG said the surface, a mixture of sand and fibre, has been further improved by the addition of a binder.

    Approximately 8500 tonnes of surface will be used at Greenwich Park.

    Lars Roepstorff, professor in equine functional anatomy at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, has also assessed the surface.

    Mr Roepstorff is carrying out research on the properties of equestrian surfaces around the world as part of a long-term scientific footing study for the FEI.

    He measured properties including surface firmness, elasticity and the dampening capacity of the footing and grip.

    He considers the London 2012 footing to be among the best and particularly the most consistent that he has worked on, a view supported by attending FEI representatives.

    FEI secretary-general Ingmar De Vos, who was also present at the assessment, said: “It is the first time that there has been such a scientific approach to footing and hopefully this will be part of the long-term legacy.

    “It helps us to determine the parameters that can be used in the future to establish scientifically approved criteria for optimal footing.”

    He said the cross-country course is also unaffected by the recent wet weather.

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