Dressage rider Beth Ward-Barnett, from Hereford has taken a step closer to her aim of representing Great Britain at Olympic level by being selected onto the British Equestrian Federation England Excel Talent Programme, which includes around 50 riders earmarked with the potential to represent Great Britain on senior teams in the future.
The selected riders from all four Olympic disciplines – Dressage, Showjumping, Eventing and Para-Equestrian Dressage – gathered on 20 October 2011 at Warwickshire Racecourse for an induction day to learn more about the British Equestrian Federation (BEF)-run programme, which provides selected individuals with access to top equestrian specialists including coaches, physiotherapists, psychologists, vets and nutritionists via a series of rider performance camps.
Beth (21) said: “I feel very privileged and excited to be a part of the BEF Excel Talent Programme. Being part of the programme is going to help me take a positive step in my career by helping me improve all the skills I need to reach my goals. I found the induction day inspirational and am looking forward to our first training camp.”
Riders also had the opportunity to find out what it takes to succeed at the top level from those on the World Class Programme. Laura Collett (Eventing), Simon Crippen (Showjumping), Maria Eilberg (Dressage) and Natasha Baker (Para-Equestrian Dressage) all gave motivational talks to the riders in their own disciplines.
Simon Wergan, Senior Talent Development Manager for Sport England, said: “These athletes have already been identified as having the talent to succeed and the Excel Talent Programme is the next step of this journey. It is important that these riders grasp the opportunities on offer with both hands.”
The Excel Talent Programme has been set up through funding from Sport England and replaces the Regional Foundation Squad system. It is intended that the revised nationalised format will allow the BEF to provide a heightened level of expertise, so aiding riders’ development as all-round athletes. The programme’s managers are working closely with British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping to ensure they add value to what is already on offer through the disciplines.
Leader of the Excel Programme, David Hamer, said: “We are lucky to have the funding to support these riders from the Lottery and Government Exchequer through Sport England. The induction day has set the theme for the programme which is to develop riders for future Olympics and Paralympic Games.