FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — NOV. 8, 2012 — The equestrian world celebrated its heroes tonight at a glittering gala evening in Istanbul, Turkey.
HRH Princess Haya, President of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body of horse sport, congratulated the winners of the FEI Awards 2012. Addressing an audience of more than 300 guests, including representatives of the FEI's 132 member federations, FEI sponsors and Turkish VIPs, the FEI President said:
"The FEI Awards were launched in 2009 to show the world what extraordinary people there are in the equestrian community and to reward them with public recognition of their work. This year's winners have demonstrated talent, commitment, generosity and courage and we are extremely proud of them."
The winners of the FEI Awards 2012 were:
- Michael Jung (GER) – Reem Acra Best Athlete Award
- Thomas McDermott (AUS) – HSBC Rising Star Award
- Shumbashaba-Horses Helping People: Sharon Boyce (RSA) – Development Award
- Celia Rijntjes (NED) – Best Groom Award
- Courtney King-Dye (USA) – Against All Odds Award
The FEI Awards winners were selected following a three-month call for nominations. The awards scheme was this year endorsed by Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who encouraged the equestrian community to "nominate individuals who give the best of themselves and embrace the Olympic values of Respect, Excellence and Friendship in their work with horses and in their everyday lives."
HRH Princess Haya chaired the judging panel, which was composed of Rosana Maria Roig, Director and Secretary General of the Puerto Rico Equestrian Federation; Ronald Gaerty, President of the Malta Equestrian Federation; and Pan Zhichen, President of the Chinese Equestrian Association.
Four of the five winners of the FEI Awards 2012 winners flew to Istanbul to attend the awards ceremony, during which multi-award-winning Turkish TV presenter and producer Defne Sarisoy shared the Master of Ceremonies role with FEI Director of Non-Olympic Sports Ian Williams.
Reem Acra Best Athlete Michael Jung (GER) was unable to be present due to other commitments, but a video message from the Olympic, World and European Champion was screened during the ceremony.
ABOUT THE WINNER
Against All Odds Award — Courtney King-Dye (USA)
Courtney King-Dye took to the saddle when she was nine. Years later, she represented the United States at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and at the FEI World Cup™ Finals 2007 and 2008. Along the way, she became a USDF-certified Dressage instructor and trainer and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in literature.
In 2010, a horse Courtney was schooling tripped and fell. Courtney, who was not wearing a helmet, fractured her skull in the fall and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. After four weeks in a coma, she spent three months in hospital re-learning how to walk and talk and the accident still severely affects her coordination and speech.
Courtney advocates educating equestrians on the benefits of wearing helmets through the Riders4Helmets campaign (www.riders4helmets.com).
Although she is still undergoing rehabilitation therapy, Courtney qualified for the US Paralympic Team Selection trials for London 2012. She decided to wait and now aims to qualify for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014.
Find out more about the FEI Awards at www.feiawards.org.