Celebrating hard work, dedication and success, the FEI Award winners 2016 were unveiled and revered at the FEI Awards Gala Ceremony Presented by Longines in Tokyo on 22 November 2016.
Hosted by joint Master of Ceremonies Liz Price (GBR) and the Athens 2004 Olympic hammer champion Koji Murofushi (JPN), now Sports Director for Tokyo 2020, the FEI Awards Gala ceremony was watched by more than 300 distinguished guests, National Federation representatives, FEI partners, VIPs, international media and guest of honour, FEI Honorary President, HRH Princess Haya. The five categories in the FEI Awards 2016 attracted a record number of nominations from the public this year, giving the judging panel an extremely hard task to select the final winners.
Chaired by Japanese Olympic Committee President and FEI Honorary Vice-President Tsunekazu Takeda, the judging panel also included the FEI President Ingmar de Vos (BEL), Longines Vice President, Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli (SUI), last year’s best athlete Boyd Exell (AUS), President of the Swaziland National Federation Glenda Warburton (SWZ), FEI Awards Against All Odds winner in 2010 Angelika Trabert (GER) and British television presenter Liz Price.
Nick Skelton (GBR)
Rio 2016 Olympic Jumping champion Nick Skelton has experience on his side. With a riding career spanning several decades, he was competing at international level from a very young age, taking took team silver and individual gold in 1975 at the FEI European Jumping Championships for Juniors. Then, at senior European level, he has won three gold, three silver and three bronze medals with the British team over a 26-year time period. Rio 2016 was his seventh Olympic appearance and second gold following the British team gold on homesoil at London 2012.
"I would like to thank the FEI for this most fabulous award. I've had an incredible year and this award makes it even better. I would like to thank the team that is behind me and Big Star for all their hard work and patience"
Mark Beever (GBR)
Nick Skelton's loyal groom Mark Beever received multiple nominations from other grooms, riders and the larger equestrian community. He is very well respected by his peers and his dedication to Big Star is beyond question, as he caters to his every need, ensuring the horse is happy and settled down before he looks after himself. His loyalty and dedication to Nick Skelton is also beyod question, having worked for him for 31 years!
Beever has groomed at numerous Championships and Olympic Games, and knows how to keep both horse and rider relaxed. His skill, knowledge and incredible work ethic means his horses always look outstanding, and he was instrumental in ensuring Big Star was fit and in prime condition for the Olympic Games in Rio. Most importantly, Skelton has full confidence in Beever’s ability to care for his horses.
"I would just like to say thanks to everybody that voted for me. It’s not just all about me. It’s a big team, a lot of hard work, but it all paid off in the end."
Against All Odds:
Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA)
Thirty-one year-old Rodolpho Riskalla competed for his home country of Brazil in Rio 2016, but in the Para-Equestrian Dressage events at the Paralympic Games and not in the Olympic Dressage events, which was his original plan. Riskalla contracted meningitis in 2015 which resulted in the loss of both his feet and most of his fingers. Nevertheless, barely out of hospital following life-saving amputations, he was back in the saddle with his sights set firmly on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, with less than a year to achieve his new goal! He had to learn how to ride again using prosthetic legs and few fingers, and his determination, passion, resilience and dedication have made him a national hero. Riskalla pursued his dream of representing his country at his home Games despite what life threw at him and had to work tremendously hard to overcome adversity.
"To win the FEI Awards, it’s like the Oscars, it’s like being a superstar. But also, to win Against All Odds represents exactly what happened to me this last year. Before this I never believed a human being could be so strong and adapt so quickly, it’s something that’s come from inside, it’s like the Olympic spirit. It’s something that is inside you and I am really proud to be a para dressage rider, a Paralympian and to be a representative of our discipline"
Royal Moroccan Federation for Equestrian Sports / SA Prince Moulay Abdellah Alaoui
The Moroccan Equestrian Federation has created solid foundations for the development of the sport and related employment in Morocco, as well as increasing awareness and promotion of the sport nationally and regionally.
Among the 2016 highlights, which was clearly a milestone year for the Federation, there is the hosting of the FEI World Jumping Challenge Final 2016 at the Institut National du Cheval, a state-of-the-art national training and competition centre, and of course, the first-ever participation of a Moroccan athlete at the equestrian events of the Olympic Games - Abdelkebir Ouaddar.
Longines Rising Star: Sönke Rothenberger (GER)
Sönke Rothenberger and his mount Cosmo were the youngest combination competing in the Olympic Dressage at Rio 2016, with a combined age of just 30, but they claimed team gold for Germany on their Olympic debut! Rothenberger’s other major achievements include: member of the winning German team at CDIO5* Aachen 2016, German Young Riders champion 2014, European Young Riders team gold and individual bronze 2014, European Ponies team gold and individual silver 2009, European Ponies double gold 2008 in Avenches, European Ponies team gold and individual bronze 2007.
"To receive this award is a great honour for me. There are so many other people who would deserve this, but to be the one who receives it, well it’s just amazing and the icing on the cake for everything we have experienced this year"
"The FEI Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding work of those who deserve the recognition, not just of our community but of the wider sports industry. These talented and dedicated athletes and individuals constantly inspire future generations of athletes, and not just equestrian athletes, and can literally change lives and communities. The FEI is very proud to honour and acknowledge these achievements"