The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), world governing body of equestrian sport, has today launched the FEI Awards 2016. This officially marks the beginning of the 8 week nomination phase that will result in the winners being announced at the FEI Awards Gala Ceremony presented by Longines in Tokyo (JPN) on 22 November 2016.

Launched in 2009, the FEI Awards are an annual salute to excellence, determination, resolve, courage and dedication. In order to recognise and celebrate the exceptional individuals and organisations that make the equestrian community so unique, the FEI calls upon the public every year to nominate their heroes via the online platform at www.feiawards.org.

“We are a global sport but we are also a way of life and a community with a very strong set of values”, FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “The FEI Awards honour everyone who make our sport happen and this has been shown time and time again in the thousands of nominations we have received since the FEI Awards were launched in 2009.

“This being an Olympic/Paralympic year, I am sure the performances and the dedication of so many individuals will add to the conversations around the heroes both in and out of the arena and I really look forward to discovering more inspirational stories that make our sport so unique. I encourage everyone to go to the website and nominate their heroes so that they can be recognised and celebrated by the global community.”

FEI Awards 2016 - five hotly-contested categories

The Longines Rising Star Award is for a person aged 14 to 21 who demonstrates outstanding sporting talent and commitment.Jessica Mendoza (GBR), who won this award in 2015, has recently been announced as reserve rider for the British Jumping team heading to the Rio2016 Olympic Games! Former winners of this category also competing in Rio, include China’s Alex Hua Tian, described in the Chinese press as “one in a billion” following the 2008 Olympic Games.

Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines Vice President and Head of International Marketing, noted: “For a number of years we have been strongly supporting young sportswomen and men active in the disciplines we are associated with, such as equestrian sports, alpine skiing and tennis. As we conceive our partnerships on a long term basis, we are keen to contribute to further to the development and outreach of the sports we are involved in. The Longines Rising Star award will be presented for the fourth time to a young talented equestrian athlete between 14 and 21 years. The recipient will succeed to the previous outstanding laureates: American rider Reed Kessler, Mauritian vaulter Lambert Leclezio and British rider Jessica Mendoza.”

The Best Athlete Award celebrates the athlete who over the last 12 months has demonstrated exceptional skills in the arena, and has taken equestrian sport to a new level. Awarded to Australia’s Boyd Exell in 2015 for his unmatched track record in the sport of Driving, including Six World Championship titles alongside numerous FEI World Cup™ titles. Previous winners of this category heading to Rio2016 seeking to add more Olympic gold medals to their collection include defending champions Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Michael Jung (GER), and Dutch jumping legend Jeroen Dubbeldam, gold medallist from Sydney 2000.

The Against All Odds Award acknowledges people who have pursued their equestrian ambitions despite physical issues or extremely difficult personal circumstances. Last year this award went to Endurance athlete Oriana Ricca Marmissolle (URU) who following diagnosis and treatment for Phase III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at just 17 years of age was back in the saddle within days of finishing chemotherapy treatment competing at events in Uruguay, France, Brazil and Chile. Former winners of this category include USA’s Sydney Collier and Germany’s highly experienced and multi medalled Angelika Trabert, both selected to compete at the Rio2016 Paralympic Games.

The Best Groom Award is dedicated to the vital behind-the-scenes team members who work 24/7 to ensure their horses get the best possible care and attention. Last year, Mexico’s Eddie Garcia Luna was celebrated for his dedication and commitment to Olympic rider Steffen Peters horses.

The FEI Solidarity Award – which in 2015 went to a tailor-made project in Haiti called “Les Chevaux qui pansent les plaies” (Horses that heal wounds) providing therapeutic riding for over 250 children affected by the 2010 earthquake and in particular amputees.  The top athletes were then given the opportunity to train in Para-Equestrian sport. This award will be presented to an FEI Solidarityor equestrian development project, or an individual or organisation that has demonstrated skill, dedication and energy in expanding equestrian sport.

Nominations for the FEI Awards 2016 will close at midnight on 18 September 2016.

Glamorous Gala

The winners of the awards will be flown to the glittering FEI Awards Gala presented by Longines in Tokyo (JPN), where over 350 guests from the global equestrian community, including representatives from the Tokyo 2020 and the FEI’s National Federations around the world, will celebrate their triumphs.

FEI Awards 2016 - your help

To make the FEI Awards 2016 even bigger and better, we are asking for your help. Your input will make these Awards truly global. To promote these Awards to your readers, please feel free to download and use our widgets at www.feiawards.org

You can also download the launch video here: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/t74gT

Note: Additional videos to promote each of the categories will also be made available to media.

FEI press release

image: FEI Awards 2015 winners from left to right: Longines' Vice President and Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli, Hollywood actress Bo Derek, Reem Acra Best Athlete Boyd Exell (AUS), Longines Rising Star Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Against All Odds Oriana Ricca Marmissolle (URU), Best Groom Jose Eduardo (Eddie) Garcia Luna (USA), FEI Solidarity Anne-Rose Schoen Les Chevaux qui pansent les plaies (Horses that heal wounds) (HAI) and FEI President Ingmar de Vos. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)