USA’s David O’Connor Backs Rottinghuis for FEI Presidency, Agrees to Serve as 1st VP
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David O’Connor, U.S. Equestrian Federation President and Olympic gold medalist, will serve as 1st vice president if Dutch candidate Henk Rottinghuis is elected as chief of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) in next month’s election. New Zealand’s Christopher Hodson would be the 2nd vice president, a post he currently holds.
Rottinghuis is campaigning for the FEI presidency currently held by Princess Haya of Jordan who is seeking a second four-year term. Sven Holmberg of Sweden, the current 1st vice president, is also running for the post. The 133 national federations that make up the FEI will decide the presidency at the General Assembly in Taipei Nov. 4-5, each nation having an equal vote.
“From my experiences as an international athlete for 20 years and a national federation president these past seven I believe that the FEI is poised to make great strides in promoting equestrian sport around the world,” O’Connor said.
“I believe that Henk’s global view and pragmatic viewpoints make him the right person at the right time for the FEI. I am honored to be thought of as being valuable to the team that Henk is putting together to guide equestrian sport into the future.”
David O’Connor won the individual eventing gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
He is credited with unifying the U.S. equestrian community after a divisive battle over control of the sport and was elected president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation which he continues to lead. He is also technical advisor, essentially coach, of the Canadian equestrian team that won the silver medal at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky earlier this month.
O’Connor is a FEI Bureau member and chair of FEI Group IV that is one of nine regional groupings and comprises Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Virgin Islands.
Hodson, a lawyer and current 2nd vice president, is generally perceived as a guardian of continuity within the FEI.
Rottinghuis said the composition of the leadership team he has assembled fits perfectly with the needs of the FEI.
“I am very happy that both David and Chris have subscribed to my agenda,” he said.
“To achieve this agenda, which the federations have themselves requested, we need individuals with great knowledge of the sport, experience of the requirements and cultures of federations across the world, sound commercial principles and great integrity. I am confident that this team delivers that and much more.
“It is testament to the strength of the agenda that both the U.S. Equestrian Federation, one of the largest equestrian federations in the world, and two people of such individual qualities, who have themselves been talked about as presidential nominees, have recognized the task that lies ahead and agreed to act as my partners in our quest to deliver the agenda.
“There is much to be done, not through ‘change’ but through a fresh approach that safeguards and builds on the FEI’s successes to date, not one which abandons them and starts all over again.
“David’s in-depth knowledge of the sport and athletes across the world, as well as his leadership of his federation, represents a good example of cooperation of established and developing countries, both small and large. This, coupled with Chris’ commitment to continuity, integrity and development, complement the skills that I bring.”
National federations voting next month have a clear choice, he said–” Those who have been happy with the last four years have two candidates to choose from – each of whom has been responsible for administering the FEI during that period.
“However, if they are looking for a new approach with a knowledgeable and committed, globally-focused team, delivering a clear agenda, then they have only one choice.”