Leading Britain to more medals: new World Class performance director named

The new leader of the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) World Class programme aims to help “make Great Britain the leading equestrian nation on and off the field of play”.

The BEF has today (11 December) announced Victoria Underwood as the new performance director for its National Lottery-funded programme.

Ms Underwood is returning to the BEF, where she worked as head of world class development between 2001 and 2009. She has since served as director of athlete performance support for High Performance Sport New Zealand, which leads the country’s high performance sports system, working with national sporting organisations.

“I am delighted to accept this prominent position to orchestrate the equestrian high performance teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020, and beyond to Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028,” Ms Underwood said.

“The great success Team GBR has had to date needs to be sustained and built upon to ensure UK Sport continues its incredible support for our sport through future cycles.”

Ms Underwood also led the performance operations team at the English Institute for Sport for the East Midlands, from 2009 to 2015, after which she led Loughborough University’s sport science and medicine for performance sport team.

She also “played important roles” with the British Olympic Association and the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympics.

“We are thrilled to welcome Vikki back to the BEF,” said federation chief executive Nick Fellows. “Having worked in high performance sport for 18 years with a number of sports, including equestrianism, Vikki has a wealth of knowledge and a strong strategic mindset which will aid the successful development and delivery of a performance-focused World Class Programme.

“Her significant leadership experience and success in previous roles will make her a valuable addition to a high quality performance team as we continue on our journey to Tokyo and beyond.”

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A BEF spokesman said Ms Underwood, who takes up the job on 24 January, will “lead and direct the BEF’s vision to nurture a winning environment and ensure that Great Britain maintains the most advanced performance programme in the world”. Working with British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping, she will “oversee the management of athletes and horses, while supporting their owners, and develop emerging talent through identifiable pathways to ensure a rich pipeline for the future”.

The spokesman added: “Vikki will be working with a team of world-leading coaches, practitioners and support staff who will continue their work towards making Great Britain the leading equestrian nation on and off the field of play.”

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