Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Para-equestrian Program continues to go from strength to strength, with a talented contingent of riders firmly setting their sights on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Australia has a history of success in Para-dressage at the Paralympic level, and with the support of the High Performance Program, the momentum in the lead-up to Tokyo continues to build.
The dedicated program, which has been shaped around a podium placing at Tokyo 2020, has seen the Para-equestrian community swell in Australia over the last four years.
With the support of the Australian Institute of Sport, the number of international Para-dressage competitions held in Australia has continued to grow year on year, providing our home-based riders with increased opportunities to gain their Paralympic qualification.
This year has been a monumental year for the Para-equestrian program, seeing four International Para-Equestrian Dressage Competitions (CPEDI) hosted in Australia in 2019. In addition, there was also a dedicated National Championships, which took place in Victoria earlier this month, incorporating national and international tests.
In April, for the very first time in Australia, a CPEDI was run in conjunction with a major international three-day event, which allowed Paralympic hopefuls to gain greater exposure to a busy atmosphere and the large crowds attracted to major events. This helped all athletes better prepare for milestone occasions such as the Paralympic Games, with the final presentations taking place in the main arena at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.
The National Championships also saw a record number of combinations entered into the CPEDI international competition. Not only were the competitor numbers the highest on record in Australia to date, but the Australian team also registered a record-breaking qualification team score, creeping ever closer to securing Australia a team place for Tokyo 2020.
“The quality and dedication of our Para-athletes is something we are all proud of,” said Equestrian Australia’s High Performance Director, Chris Webb. “The program continues to develop, and we are seeing record numbers of competitors taking part in CPEDIs and vying for a place on the team for Tokyo 2020. With the number of promising combinations we have at present, and the scores that are being delivered, we are very optimistic regarding the team heading into Tokyo 2020.”
Paralympian Sharon Jarvis said: “It is a very positive step forward that the High Performance Para-equestrian Program has taken on holding several CPEDI events in Australia in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“This allows the riders to have exposure to judges who will be officiating at the Paralympics, and exposure like this is invaluable in our sport.
“The recent National Para Championships were a great success. This is a great stepping stone for the development of riders for the future of our sport. It also provided a good environment and atmosphere for the top riders to compete in, which is beneficial for those wishing to compete internationally in the future.”
By Equestrian Australia
Photo with thanks to Equestrian Australia