Olympic Equestrian Footing Passes Final Review

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has granted final approval of the all-weather footing that will be used at Greenwich Park during the equestrian events at the 2012 Olympic Games.

"With support from the FEI, the contractors and our own team have done a great job to get the make-up of the surface right, and we now believe this will be a world class surface for the equestrian athletes in a stunning Olympic venue," said Debbie Jevans, London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) director of sport.

The final assessment took place on the main arena and involved two high-level competition horses working and jumping fences on the surface. The surface mixture of sand and fiber has been further improved by the addition of a binder. Approximately 8,500 tons will be used at Greenwich Park.

Also attending as FEI representatives were Technical Advisor Leopoldo Palacios, Jumping Technical Delegate Frank Rothenberger, and footing experts Oliver Hoberg and Bart Poels. Olympic jumping course designer Bob Ellis was also present. All were unanimous in their view that the footing that has been produced is of a quality that would be expected of an Olympic Games and performs consistently across the full extent of the arena, as well as on the training and warm-up areas.

The conclusions of those present following the assessment were supported by the scientific work carried out on the surface by Lars Roepstorff, DVM, PhD, professor of equine functional anatomy at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Roepstorff carried out research on the properties of equestrian surfaces around the world as part of a long-term scientific footing study for the FEI. He measured properties including surface firmness, elasticity, the dampening capacity of the footing, and grip. He considers the London 2012 footing to be amongst the best and particularly the most consistent that he has worked on.

"A lot of work has been done on this footing with the involvement of many experts and we are really happy with the final result," said FEI Secretary General Ingmar de Vos, who was also present at the assessment. "It is the first time that there has been such a scientific approach to footing and hopefully this will be part of the long-term legacy as it helps us to determine the parameters that can be used in the future to establish scientifically approved criteria for optimal footing.

Meanwhile, de Vos said that despite persistent and heavy rainfall that has caused dozens of three-day events to be canceled this year in the U.K., the Olympic cross-country course appears ready for action: "Tim Hadaway (LOCOG sport competition manager for the equestrian events) showed me around the cross-country and we were happy to see that the footing is in very good shape and ready for the competition, and that the recent adverse weather conditions have had no negative effects."

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