April 11 - Britain's double Olympic dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin and German two-time Olympic eventing gold medallist Ingrid Klimke are among the eight Olympic and Paralympic heroes, world champions and national stars named today as ambassadors of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) solidarity programme.
Joining Dujardin and Klimke are Singapore's four-time Paralympic medallist Laurentia Tan; American showjumping star Jessica Springsteen; Spaniard Maria Alvarez Ponton, who in 2010 became the first rider to hold concurrent world and European endurance titles; and Sweden's three-time winner of the FEI Top Driver Award Tomas Eriksson.
Israel's Lior Raz, who has been competing in reining since the age of 14, and South African vaulter Bongani Mvumvu, who also won the FEI World Dressage Challenge Final for Children in Hagen in 2003 complete the line up of athletes who will support the governing body's global sport development programme by raising awareness, attending media events and visiting equestrian initiatives around the world.
Launched in 2011, FEI Solidarity has so far supported 18 projects with funding and technical and consultancy services, including horse-assisted therapy for seriously disadvantaged teenagers in South Africa, sports classes for multiple sclerosis sufferers in Sardinia, training of coaches to improve national sport development, and farrier and harness-making training in Cambodia with international charity World Horse Welfare.
A further 15 initiatives will receive support from FEI Solidarity in 2013.
"FEI Solidarity is an exciting journey towards creating a more equal equestrian community, and is about us pulling together to develop exciting new projects that will develop the sport we all cherish, so that it is truly universal," FEI President Princess Haya said.
"This is the first time that equestrians from across our disciplines have come together for one cause, and the calibre of our FEI Solidarity ambassadors is exceptional, highlighting the true global reach of our development programme.
"FEI Solidarity is changing lives, and this united front of extraordinary equestrian ambassadors will help us to build and nurture the future of equestrian sport, making it possible for many more development initiatives around the world to become a reality.
"Our FEI Solidarity ambassadors, and everyone working alongside us on this initiative, has a shared commitment and goal to amplify the voice of equestrian sport, guarantee its future worldwide, and to create future champions."
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