World experts in equestrian sport and risk management met last weekend at Tattersalls (IRL) for the FEI‘s Eventing Risk Management summit, taking a 360 look at minimising risk in the sport. Olympic gold medallist and Chair of the FEI Risk Management Steering Group David O’Connor (USA), who chaired the summit (10-12 February), described the outcome of the three-day meetings as “great strides forward”.
A total of 22 nations were represented though 80 delegates, including specially invited leading judges, trainers, athletes, technical delegates, risk management and technology experts, and National Safety Officers. The summit was also attended by the world’s most experienced 3* and 4* course designers, including the course designers for the last three Olympic Games, Pierre Michelet (Rio 2016), Sue Benson (London 2012) and Mike Etherington-Smith (Beijing 2008) plus Ian Stark (GBR), who designed the track for the Longines FEI European Championships 2015 in Blair Castle, Captain Mark Phillips (GBR) and Giuseppe Della Chiesa (ITA), also Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee.
David O’Connor lead and moderated presentations and discussions across the three days, which covered a wide range of topics, from the grass-roots to the top level of the sport, including coaching, course design, fence construction, the athletes’ perspective and the current and future roles of data and statistical analysis.
Presentations were made by some of the biggest names in the sport, including Olympian and former coach of Team Germany Chris Bartle, who is now performance coach for his home nation Great Britain, and six time Olympian, Andrew Nicholson (NZL).
A presentation from Equiratings led discussion on the collection, use and communication of data and took the delegation through their athlete performance index, the Equiratings Quality Index, an innovative statistical way of looking into the progression of athletes.
“This was a very important meeting which exceeded my expectations” David O’Connor said. “To have such a wealth of experience and knowledge brought together to present, discuss and debate ideas, combined with an outside technical perspective, covering the fundamental role of data analysis and statistics, is a crucial step. The level of conversation was extremely high, everyone involved is fully committed to taking risk management to a continued and improved level and I believe we are making great strides forward in minimising risk.”
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez says: “Last weekend’s Eventing Risk Management summit marks another important step in our work on minimising risk. The expert input of delegates from 22 nations around the world demonstrates the united aim of the FEI and the worldwide Eventing community to make the sport as safe as possible for both our human and equine athletes, and we look forward to presenting and discussing recommendations of the Risk Management Steering Group at the Sports Forum in April.”
The Eventing Risk Management Summit was one of the recommendations of the independent audit conducted by Charles Barnett.
Once finalised by the Risk Management Steering Group, the recommendations from the summit will go forward to the FEI Eventing Committee. Recommendations will then be open for public consultation at the 2017 FEI Sports Forum (10-11 April) before presentation to the FEI Bureau at the 2017 General Assembly.