Endurance rider Andrea Smith is to carry New Zealand’s flag at the opening ceremony for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, beating out eventing heavyweights such as Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson.
The Opening Ceremony gets under way on Saturday night at the d’Ornano Stadium, in Caen, Normany, and will be broadcast live on FEI TV beginning at 8.30pm Central European Time [6.25am 24 Aug NZT]. Following the parade of nations, 21,000 spectators in d’Ornano Stadium will be treated to an amazing show featuring more than 300 artists, including 100 riders, who will perform 30 scenes divided into three acts to show that “all roads lead to Normandy.”
Equestrian Sports New Zealand chef d’mission Sarah Harris says the flag-bearer role is fitting for Andrea Smith, as the current New Zealand national endurance champion.
“She really has earned the right,” said Harris. “She heads into these championships in very good form.”
Smith, a 43-year-old from Mangaweka, who with her daughter Georgia are the first mother-daughter combination to compete at championship level for New Zealand equestrian, will lead the team, and Anthea Dixon, New Zealand’s first WEG para-dressage representative, will carry the country sign.
On Tuesday, Dixon will be the first of the Kiwi athletes to compete, followed by the endurance competition and eventing’s opening dressage day on Thursday. New Zealand is also represented in showjumping and vaulting.
“There is a real buzz in the air here as the athletes from all over the world arrive,” Harris said. “Normandy is really getting behind the event, with tickets sold out for most sessions.”
The games feature jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, reining, vaulting, endurance and para-dressage, with competitors expected from 76 nations.
• Canada has also named its flag bearer, with Olympian Belinda Trussell of Stouffville, Ontario, chosen to lead the team.
“This is a huge honour, and I am so excited and proud to carry the Canadian flag into the Opening Ceremonies,” she said.
Trussell, an accomplished member of the Canadian Equestrian Team, has represented Canada at numerous major games, including the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as both the 2002 (Jerez, ESP) and 2010 (Lexington, USA) World Equestrian Games in the discipline of dressage. In this year’s Games, Trussell will be paired with her long-time partner Anton, whom she also rode in the Lexington Games.
“I could not believe I was chosen,” added Trussell. “I love my sport, and I will hold the flag with pride. This is an opportunity that I will never forget.”
Below images © Jane Thompson from the final opening ceremony rehearsal.