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Courtney King steps up, against the odds

FEI President HRH Princess Haya and Courtney King-Dye at the FEI Awards 2012 ceremony in Istanbul. © FEI/Murathan Ozbek

FEI President HRH Princess Haya and Courtney King-Dye at the FEI Awards 2012 ceremony in Istanbul. © FEI/Murathan Ozbek

US Olympic dressage rider Courtney King-Dye has joined the call for nominations for the FEI’s Against All Odds Award, just 20 days before the closing date for the FEI Awards 2013.

King-Dye, a traumatic brain injury survivor,  was last year the recipient of the Against All Odds Award, which goes to a person who has pursued his or her equestrian ambitions despite a physical handicap or extremely difficult personal circumstances.

“The FEI award meant a great deal to me because the recipient is nominated by the public,” King-Dye said recently. “It meant that I touched people, that they thought me the most worthy of such an important, international award.”

Addressing the equestrian community, she said: “If you think that someone deserves the 2013 award, please take the time to nominate them – let them know they’re meaningful.”

King-Dye’s story is well known. In 2010, she fell from a horse she was schooling, fractured her skull and spent a month in a coma. She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and is still undergoing rehabilitation therapy, as her coordination and speech have been severely affected. The campaign website www.riders4helmets.com was created in reaction to her accident.

After the FEI Awards ceremony in Istanbul last November, King-Dye wrote: ʺI think my accident was necessary in the fight for safety because an Olympian who sustains a brain injury while riding proves that injury has nothing to do with level of skill. For 15 years, I was a person who only rode the young or “dangerous” horses with a helmet, but my horse did nothing naughty; he just tripped over his own feet.”

The FEI, whose new Helmet Rule came into effect on 1 January 2013, has worked closely with Riders4Helmets and King-Dye.

On 22 June, International Helmet Awareness Day, FEI General Counsel Lisa Lazarus was the first guest speaker on the Riders4Helmet’s “Get Educated” live-streamed webinars.

“The FEI is urging everyone involved in equestrian sport to use protective headgear and familiarise themselves with the FEI helmet rule,” she said.

“We have been collaborating with Riders4Helmets all the way through this process, and their help has been invaluable. The Riders4Helmets team members are all highly committed volunteers with demanding day jobs, and they have made massive in-roads since their first International Helmet Awareness Day in July 2010. We look forward to continuing to support Riders4Helmets as they spread their safety message internationally”.

Courtney King-Dye qualified for the US Paralympic Team Selection trials for London 2012 but decided not to continue. King-Dye, who is a USDF-certified Dressage instructor and trainer, recently told the FEI how much she enjoyed teaching clinics and said she was “very thankful” to have the ability to share her knowledge.

Nominations for the Against All Odds Award, as well as for the other four FEI Awards categories (Reem Acra Best Athlete, Longines Rising Star, Best Groom and Development) are open until 31 July at www.feiawards.org.

 

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