By Arunav Choudhury and Mousumi Mazumdar for Virtus
This year, competition and spirit will come together at Vichy as the first live tournament of Equestrian will take place at the Virtus Global Games 2023. It is one of the newest sports on the Virtus programme and was added in 2016. Virtus has organized six annual editions of Para Equestrian Video competition.
Throughout the decades, Equestrian has been an engaging sport which involves precise manoeuvres and movements demanding a delicate balance between agility and stability. As such, for the upcoming Equestrian tournaments at the Global Games 2023, athletes are preparing themselves with determination. Control and coordination will be put to the test as riders will have to come up with the perfect recipe involving skill, steadiness and communication with their horses to have a shot at victory and earn accolades.
Spanish rider Sonia Villalba, a Paralympian and three time II-1: Grade IV champion at the online para-dressage competition will compete in the tournament. Sonia is a veteran of Para Equestrian and has competed at many World and European championships including the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Expressing her excitement for the GG2023, Sonia says,
“I am very happy to see the efforts of Virtus to introduce Equestrian as one of their sports. I am hopeful that the celebration of Equestrian at the Global Games will be a huge step towards the total integration of the riders with intellectual impairment in the Paralympic movement in the future”.
Likewise, Alejandro Espejo from Spain and Sui Watts (AUS) have been winning all the II2 category events and will be riding to defend their spot. In addition, youngest among the athletes in the II3 category for Equestrian, Rui Yan Ta (TPE) with his youthful spirit and focus will also be present in the tournament and will be aspiring for glory at the 2023 Global Games. Also fulfilling their dreams are Andrew Driffield (AUS), Christopher Bradley (GBR), Georgina Maton (GBR), Laurie Descouture (FRA), Maria Sanchez (Spain), Tatjana Raible (GBR) in II1 and Anna Beem (USA) in II3.
Uta Rindfleisch, Chairperson of Virtus Equestrian expressed her heartfelt gratitude towards the LOC of GG2023 for not only organizing the first offline para-dressage competition, but also for taking on the demanding task to source suitable horses for the athletes who are not able to bring their own mounts to Vichy.
“After 5 years of video competitions we are absolutely excited to finally meet our riders at a live tournament, where athletes will have the chance to represent their country on the World Stage. In addition, having a veteran of Para Equestrian like Sonia will be inspiring for young athletes to join the Para Equestrian movement”,Uta told Virtus.
The inaugural edition of Equestrian at the Virtus Global Games will feature some of the greatest riders from Spain, Australia, Great Britain, USA, Egypt, Germany, Chinese Taipei as well as France.
An exciting tournament with a vibrant display of quality sport awaits in the month of June and the audience will be thrilled as well as delighted to witness a showcase of fine talents and exhilarating performances. This incredible addition to the list of sports at the Global Games 2023 will certainly create a memorable event for all participants. But more importantly, it will pave the way for future athletes to come together as fellow competitors, deliver their best and experience the wonder of sport.