ISN – Normandy, FRA, August 23, 2014 – Canadian flags waved proudly on August 23 during the Opening Ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, FRA-where François Hollande,President of France, officially pronounced the Games open for 15 days of thrilling competition.
More than 70 Canadians took to the d’Ornano Stadium during the parade of nations, which showcased riders from all 74 countries who will be competing at the Games in the eight FEI disciplines of Dressage, Driving, Eventing, Endurance, Jumping, Reining, Para-Equestrian, and Vaulting.
“The parade of nations is one of those rare opportunities where all the disciplines come together as Team Canada. It’s always so much fun to see all of our disciplines mingling and getting to know each other,” said Kerri McGregor, Chef de Mission of the CET for the Games.
More than 20,000 spectators were in attendance at the d’Ornano Stadium to welcome the athletes during the parade of nations. Canadian Reining Team member Josiane Gauthier of Lucama, BC, and Endurance Team member Leanna Marchant from Calgary, AB, proudly led the Canadian contingent around the d’Ornano Stadium. At the completion of country introductions, Canadian Olympian and Dressage Team member, Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, ON, was honoured with the role of flag bearer for Canada.
Also among the Canadian athletes in the parade of nations was Megan Lane of Loretto, ON, a fellow member of the Canadian Dressage Team who is attending her inaugural FEI World Equestrian Games. “It’s surreal. It kind of reminds me of the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships – it has that same type of spirit of ‘team.’ It’s great and it’s everything I imagined it to be.”
Following the parade of nations, spectators were treated to a stunning show designed and produced by the French agency, Skertzó. The show blended cutting edge 3D projections with live performances by 300 artists and 100 horses to take spectators along on an amazing journey showcasing that “all horse paths lead to Normandy.”
This year’s Games are the seventh edition of the FEI World Equestrian Games, and are officially the best attended, seeing record-breaking numbers with 74 nations, 969 athletes, and 1080 horses competing. An estimated 500,000 spectators and 500 million television viewers are expected to tune in to the Games.
A total of 32 Canadian riders will be competing throughout the Games. Competition gets underway on August 25 with three of the eight disciplines taking to the ring. The Canadian Dressage Team will kick things off in the Team Grand Prix at 8:15 a.m. Central European Time. Reining gets underway shortly after with the Team Competition and Individual Qualifier at 8:45 a.m. Para-Equestrian starts with the 1st Team Competition at 9:00 a.m.
“The excitement is really building; people are looking forward to achieving a personal best on the world stage. We’re looking forward to a fantastic competition hosted by France. If the Opening Ceremonies are any indication, we are in for a real treat at these Games,” stated McGregor.