With less than a month to go before FEI Endurance World Championship 2022, athletes are gathering in Butheeb (UAE). A total of 129 combinations representing 37 nations are ready to challenge each other for the individual and team world titles on Saturday 25 February 2023.
The 18th edition of the FEI Endurance World Championship, first held in 1986, boasts a remarkably gender-balanced field of participants, with 63 female and 66 male athletes entered, and an equally impressive diversity in age range of the participants with 55 years separating the youngest and first time World Championship competitor, 18-year-old Constanza Pacheco Diaz (ARG) from Canada’s 73-year old Robert Gielen, who will be taking part in his fourth World Championship!
With numbers reminiscent of pre-covid times, the Championship will see 24 teams compete for the team title, which the Spanish have held firmly within their grip since the World Championship in Caen (FRA) in 2014.
For Spain, a fourth consecutive title would set a new record in the sport. Still, they will face plenty of opposition from other teams vying for the top spot, such as Brazil and France – silver and bronze medallists at the World Championship in Pisa (ITA) in 2021. The heat will be one with pressure from other former medallists including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bahrain, Qatar and host nation UAE, the only other country to boast three consecutive world titles, which they achieved from 2008 to 2012.
From an individual front, all eyes will also be on Spanish and Emirati riders, as they have dominated the field since 2006. Among them, there is Salem Hamad Saeed Al Kitbi (UAE), with his horse Haleh, who will be defending his World title here in Butheeb; Spain’s power couple Maria Alvarez Ponton and Jaume Punti Dachs who have three individual World titles between them; and, their compatriot Angel Soy Coll, who is current European Champion.
A successful test event held in December 2022, following the allocation to Butheeb at the FEI General Assembly in November of that same year, confirmed that all the systems and footing were on track for a successful World Championship in February.
Alongside the 160 km track, which will be run over six loops and has been prepared to the highest standard, proper hydration and temperature control have also been optimised. Featured throughout will be multiple water points for the competitors to rehydrate and cool off, serviced by many of the volunteers and staff that have dedicated their time and expertise to supporting the event.
In addition, the Organising Committee will also be implementing a number of actionable, sustainable initiatives in a bid to set a new benchmark for future Endurance events and showcase UAE’s commitment to innovation in sustainable ecology in line with their pledge for carbon neutrality by 2050.
We are excited to see so many athletes and nations confirmed for this important Championship”,
Sustainable thinking is absolutely key to event planning today, and I am delighted the World Championship in Butheeb has set its sights on becoming a point of reference for environmental sustainability at Endurance rides in the future.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of the Organising Committee in Butheeb and the UAE Equestrian National Federation, we will have a fantastic backdrop for our sport with all the necessary infrastructures and requirements to ensure our athletes and our horses can perform at their very best, with safety and welfare a priority throughout.”
said FEI President Ingmar De Vos.