GG2023: Australia dominates the Para-Dressage events

By Akhila Chungath for Virtus

The atmosphere at the equestrian venue was buzzing with excitement as riders from around the world prepared for the first-ever live equestrian tournament after five years of video competitions.

In the II3 category, Louis Malaussenna (FRA) emerged as the victor, winning the gold medal with a commanding lead of 68.391%. Tai Rui Yun from Chinese Taipei followed with 58,966%, while Beem Anna (USA) secured third with 58.218%.

Sui Watts, a trailblazing equestrian athlete from Australia, made history in the 2023 Virtus Global Games. After becoming Australia’s first representative in Virtus Para-Equestrian video competitions in 2017, Watts has now claimed the gold medal in II2 with a score of 62.241%, while Espejo Lanzas Alejandro J (ESP) secured the silver medal with a score of 55.517%, while on day 1 during the team competition he had a slim advantage of 0.278% over his competitor from Australia.

Photo Credit: DETREZ

In a remarkable display of equestrian prowess, Australia dominated the II1 Equestrian event, occupying both the first and second positions. Andrew Driffield emerged as the undisputed champion, earning an astonishing score of 71,437%, followed by Sarah Sherwood, who secured the second position with an equally impressive score of 69.828%, followed closely by  Laurie Descouture from France with 69.425%. Laurie has come a long way after finishing at 8th position in her first Virtus Para-Equestrian Video Competition in 2018.

The Australian Equestrian Team, consisting of Andrew Driffield, Sui VirtWatts, and Sarah Sherwood, clinched the gold medal with a total score of 1459.5. The Spanish team proved their mettle by securing the second position in the equestrian competition, earning a well-deserved spot on the podium with a total score of 1444.0. The French Equestrian Team followed closely behind in the third position with a total score of 1443.0, highlighting the razor-thin margins between the teams and the intense level of competition set by each nation.

The week was truly amazing, with a great team and a perfect venue that surpassed all expectations. The athletes had a fantastic experience during their first Virtus live competition, thanks to the efforts of the LOC and the exceptional dedication of the volunteers,” says Amanda Heath, Virtus Equestrian Committee member.

Photo Credit: Detrez

Both days of the equestrian event delivered a thrilling competition, that left the spectators in awe. The advent of the first live equestrian tournament marks a significant milestone in the world of Virtus equestrian sports, as rider athletes now have the opportunity to represent their countries in real-time, showcasing their skills, dedication, and the incredible bond they share with their equine partners.