Dubai: Emotions ran high as the curtain came down on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games bringing to an end two weeks of unparalleled horse-riding at the historic city of Normandy, France.
Besides the breath-taking action, the seventh edition of the Games which were launched in 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden, will be best remembered for establishing several records not least the highest participation and attendance.
Horsemen representing a record 74 nations, an increase of 25 per cent on the last Games in 2010, were watched by over 570,000 spectators while the FEI’s YouTube Channel exceeded over 5.5 million views during the Games.
FEI President Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was close to tears as she addressed a packed stadium during the Games closing ceremony.
“This is the final time that I will stand before you at a World Equestrian Games as President of the FEI,” she said. “This is a hugely poignant moment in my life. And I will leave this stadium tonight truly knowing the measure of the gift that you have given the sport I love. Thanks to Normandy and thanks to France, I now know our beloved sport is where it should be.
“When the rest of the world looks at France, we see Freedom, Equality, and Harmony through brotherhood.
“You have given our athletes the freedom to compete fairly and without reserve, while putting the welfare of the horse at the heart of all that they do on this beautiful stage.
“You have witnessed the equality that only the horse can bring, to men and women, to young and old, to able bodied and the less able. And you have provided a stage to celebrate the bond between a horse and rider which represents one of the purest kinds of love, the bond of brotherhood,” she added.
“Thanks to you, the French people, our sport is now strong, proud, and you have given it the freedom to roam the world, as horses have since the beginning of time itself. This spirit of the beautiful region of Normandy, this spirit of France will forever live on in our hearts. Thank you, Normandy; thank you, France.
And now, it is my duty to declare the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy. . . .closed.”
The Games, which ran from August 23 to September 7 brought together 967 athletes and 1,113 horses from 74 nations for two weeks of world-class competition in Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining.
Britain topped the medal table winning seven gold medals and 15 overall while the Netherlands finished second with six gold but with 18 medals overall. Germany were third with five gold and 15 medals overall.
The UAE finished joint ninth with Australia, Italy and Spain, thanks to the endurance gold medal won by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.