Text © World of Showjumping
“We should all want to be the good guys who care about our sport,” Eric Lamaze says to World of Showjumping. It’s less than 24 hours since the Olympic Champion went on Facebook and shared his opinion on the casual approach grooms, riders and organisers in Europe have displayed when it comes to Covid-19 safety measures at international shows. In particular, Lamaze spoke out against the lack of face mask protection at two Belgian venues – in Lier and Opglabbeek. Lamaze also addressed the huge number of entries that have been accepted at certain shows.
“I was a little bit shocked to see how casual people were about the safety measures,” Lamaze says. “Only a handful of the riders were wearing masks; even when they were close up and interacting with others – students for example – they were without. I just could not understand why they were without one.”
“We have a big responsibility here to make this restart right,” Lamaze continues. “These shows will most likely determine if bigger events with public can take place again. This is why it is so important that we all act responsible. Putting on gloves and a mask does not deprive us of anything, it just shows that we are intelligent people that care about our sport and all those around us. It’s about being a bit more vigilant, and I don’t see that as a big sacrifice. I think it’s a good thing that face mask as of today have been made mandatory at Belgian sport events. It’s how it should be everywhere.”
“It’s important to bear in mind that most of us don’t do this just for the competition aspect, it is our livelihoods we are talking about,” Lamaze points out. “If people don’t take responsibility, we’re going to be back home riding in circles before we know it because there will be no more shows. That’s where my memo came from; I was just absolutely not on board with what was going on. All I want, is for the sport to carry on – I want us to be able to jump in Barcelona, I want the five-stars to continue. But how can that happen, if we don’t set a good example ourselves. How can we ask of the public to comply with safety measures if we – the organisers and riders – don’t?”
“Everyone needs to be aware of the consequences if the sport stops again,” Lamaze says. “Those will involve no more prize money, not selling horses – which means no income, and possible bankruptcy for some. That’s the reality and why we need to unite, because if we all do the right thing, we can go on and survive this. The mask is not that much of a burden versus the consequences of not wearing it.”
“I put my mask on every day – obviously I have to,” Lamaze – who has been battling a brain tumour for nearly two years – says. “It’s a part of my routine, I sometimes even forget I have it on. I also go to the ring with it, but when competing I change it to a visor and put my mask back on the moment I come out. The visor shields well, allows me to breathe better and is an excellent tool to be protected in the ring. I have no discomfort at all riding with it.”
“I don’t see it as a big sacrifice to wear a mask – it protects me, my loved ones and those around me. We should also do it for the sport that we all love, for us to be able to continue,” Lamaze says. “Everyone needs to realise that this virus is going to circle around us until we have a vaccination. That can take a year, two years – who knows. But in a bigger picture, what is two years of living your life a bit differently? It’s nothing, and I should know.”
“As to the show in Lier this weekend, I was not impressed by the program. With 250 riders in one 1.45m class divided into three groups jumping three different courses to qualify for a ranking class. While I was pre-qualified for the Grand Prix, I was not pre-qualified for the ranking class and to race around with a young horse to get to compete makes no sense to me. It’s just not right for the horses. I have a beautiful set of fences at home, where I can school and train my horses and that just felt way safer,” Lamaze says.
“My hope is that people can give the sport the credit and respect it deserves, so it can keep on going!” Lamaze closes off.
This content was originally published here.