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Posted by Kirsty Pasto on 19/10/2020.

Equestrian Australia High Performance Weekly Update – 19th October, 2020

As we all continue to persevere and adopt the ‘new normal’ that has been unceremoniously forced upon us, our High Performance equestrian community has not let the adversity delivered by COVID-19 diminish their conviction or their determination to see our sport revived within Australia.

This past weekend Australia hosted its first FEI competition since lockdown began and COVID-19 placed the world on hold. Equestriad took place over two days in Camden NSW and ran CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S classes alongside a variety of national level classes. The organising committee did a commendable job of ensuring all health and safety protocols were in place and adhered to by everyone onsite throughout the event. Many of our High Performance Eventing Squad riders jumped at the opportunity to participate in an FEI event again and to recommence their competition preparation ahead of the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.

With the Australian States and Territories facing varying levels of government restrictions, notably Victoria, not all riders were able to compete at Equestriad. However, with the recent lowering of case numbers in Victoria and the promising easing of restrictions we are optimistic that soon all of our Australian domestic athletes will have the opportunity to compete again in the near future. We remain in close contact with all of our High Performance Squad riders ensuring they are supported through these unprecedented circumstances and that their individual performance plan is tailored to best address their current needs and situation. Our EA High Performance (HP) staff also continues to work closely with the FEI and organising committees to ensure that our riders remain informed of the latest restrictions, event developments, government protocols and safety updates.  

In April we announced that in order to manage the EA High Performance Plan, and our fiscal responsibility, the HP Program and associated expenditure would be put on hold until the end of September 2020. This included a pause on our athlete’s individual performance plan funding and event support. We also further implemented a Salary Reduction Plan for all HP staff members. We are now pleased to confirm that the High Performance Panel and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) have approved the reinstatement of the EA High Performance Program. This will once again allow us to provide our identified athletes with the support required for them to continue to strive towards our Olympic and Paralympic medal outcomes.

Over the past few months we have been working closely with the AIS on an Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement (AW&E) framework which aims to ensure our athletes’ experience within the HP program is holistically supported, they are able to gain valuable life skills and that they can speak positively about their time in the sport. To develop the AW&E framework HP and the AIS conducted focus groups with our various stakeholders and engaged them in discussion to draw out the key requirements and benefits of the framework. The final framework that has been constructed by the AIS provides HP with a strategy to deliver agreed AW&E services in a staged and appropriate manner. We anticipate this framework will assist in providing our athletes with well-rounded skills leading to a sustained and long lasting career both in and out of the saddle.

With the postponed Tokyo Games less than one year away we continue to work closely with Australian Olympic Committee, Paralympics Australia and the FEI to remain at the forefront of any new developments that may concern our athletes and horses. The daily challenges that we all face in the current global climate are magnified when we look at them in a Games scenario. We have been working tirelessly to review, amend and reconsider our operational and logistical planning and to ensure that no detail is overlooked with the safety of our athletes, horses and support staff remaining our highest priority. 

We thank you all for your understanding and continued support and please feel free to contact the High Performance team directly if you have any questions or queries.

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