The 2007 FEI General Assembly marked a new era for athletes and their representation at the FEI. The first FEI Athletes Committee, nominated by the FEI President and elected at the General Assembly, is composed of eight members, all active athletes, each representing one of the FEI disciplines. The Athletes Committee will act as a consultative body and as a link between the active Athletes and the FEI. It ensures that the Athletes’ points of view are taken into account in FEI decisions and furthermore that the rights of the athletes are respected.
The first FEI Athletes is composed of:
PARA EQUESTRIAN – LEE PEARSON (GBR) – CHAIRMAN
Six-times Paralympic Games Equestrian gold medallist Lee Pearson was also the first Paralympian to be inducted to the British Horse Society’s Hall of Fame. Pearson won three gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and repeated the achievement with another hat-trick of golds in Athens in 2006. Lee Pearson was also the first ever recipient of the FEI Fair Play Certificate. Lee Pearson was elected the first chairman of the FEI Athletes Committee.
DRESSAGE – ISABEL WERTH (GER)
Isabel Werth is a well known figure in the world of Dressage and, as most international athletes, has experienced the glory and the hardships which characterise a sporting career. 2006 was a remarkable year for Isabel Werth having been crowned Dressage Grand Prix World Champion at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, she is also currently placed at the top of the leader board for the FEI World Cup™ Western European League and is more than ready for the final to be held in Las Vegas in April.
JUMPING – CAYETANO MARTINEZ DE IRUJO (ESP)
President of the International Jumping Riders Club, Cayetano Martinez de Irujo is no stranger to representing his fellow athletes and their interests. He has been riding since he was 16 and competing internationally for at least 25 years with an appearance at the 1992 Olympic Games and a fourth place for Spain. His interests in the political and administrative aspects of the sport have always been forthcoming and his motivation to represent his fellow athletes always very prominent.
EVENTING – ANDREW HOY (AUS)
A six-time Olympic veteran having competed at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, Andrew Hoy won his first Olympic gold in 1992 in Barcelona. In Atlanta in 1996, after carrying the Australian flag in the Opening Ceremony, Hoy was a member of the team that won the back-to-back gold followed by another victory on home turf at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The more recent past has also been rather glorious as far as sporting achievements, ranked first in the 2006 FEI World Eventing Riders Ranking List and a member of the bronze medal Australian Team at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen. A natural choice for the athletes committee, Andrew Hoy is also married to fellow Eventing athlete, Bettina Hoy from Germany.
DRIVING – BARRY CAPSTICK (IRL)
Born in Great Britain, Barry Capstick changed his nationality to Irish in 2003. He began Driving in 1989, and started competing in Horse Pairs in 1990. He was National Champion Horse Pairs in 1993 and 1994 and reserve in 1995. He switched to Four-in-Hand Driving in 1996. More recently, he was part of the Irish team at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen.
VAULTING: MEGAN BENJAMIN (USA)
At the height of her 18 years, Megan Benjamin took the world by storm in 2006 at the FEI World Equestrian Games, becoming the first female American vaulter ever to take a world championship. She is the United States Equestrian Federation® (USEF)/American Vaulting Association (AVA) three-time Women's Gold National Champion, three times a member of the USEF/AVA National Championship "A" Team, and the AVA National Gold High Point Women's Champion for the last three years. An incoming freshman at Santa Clara University (SCU) in Santa Clara, California, Benjamin says she will continue to vault throughout college in preparation for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010.
ENDURANCE – MERCEDES TAPIA (ARG)
Mercedes Tapia is one of Argentina's top Endurance Riders, having represented Argentina in two World Championships and recently earning the silver medal in the 2005 Pan American Championship. Mercedes Tapia is closely tied to many of the top breeders and competitors in Argentina as she is also an equine veterinarian.
REINING – JEANNATTE KRÄHENBÜHL (SUI)
Placed first in the FEI World Reining Riders Rankings for 2006, Jeanette Krähenbühl is one of the big profiles in the world of Reining and one of very few European riders that in the early days earned her respect in the US, where Reining finds its roots. She lives in Switzerland and has made a name for herself after her big wins the FEI World Reining Masters, a contest considered as one of the biggest around the globe in Reining. She was present at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games, helping Switzerland place fifth.
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