Isabell Werth, one of equestrian sports most decorated champions, has once again stolen the show, receiving the Best Athlete Award at the 2017 FEI Awards Gala in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Nov. 22.
The German superstar was unable to attend the ceremony but spoke to guests via video message, and Soenke Lauterbach, secretary general of the German Federation received the award on her behalf.
“To receive the best athlete award is really fantastic. It makes me really proud, really happy to get this support from so many people, and that they’re really behind me, and they respect what we have done in the last months,” said Werth. “2017 was just amazing; it was a really great year. It was all horses I have to say! Of course the highlight was Omaha with the World Cup final with [Weihegold], it was a fantastic freestyle!”
Harry Allen (Ireland), double gold medalist at the FEI European Pony Championships in Kaposvar, Hungary, last August, was recognized for his numerous outstanding performances throughout the year, winning the Longines Rising Star Award.
Great Britain’s Alan Davies, recognized for his tireless effort behind the scenes for dressage stars Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, was presented with the FEI Best Groom Award. Praising the unsung heroes of the sport, Davies was visibly moved by the public support for his dedication, commitment and hard work, saying, “Words can’t describe how I feel; it’s just amazing!”
The former vice president of the Indian Equestrian Federation, Manoj Jalan accepted the FEI Solidarity Award for the inaugural Retraining of Racehorses project in Assam, India.
Emma Booth of Australia was commended for her strength, resilience, determination and drive as she was presented with the Against All Odds Award. Booth, 26, was left paralyzed after a road traffic accident in April 2013, yet she is already planning her campaign around the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (N.C.) and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“We received over 100,000 votes and were overwhelmed with the response to this year’s awards,” said FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “We have incredible athletes, with remarkable stories, and this year we had the highest number of nominations from more countries than ever before, which clearly shows the universality of our sport.
“The public involvement in the voting process was phenomenal and was an essential part of the judging process for these prestigious awards,” he continued. “It is outstanding to see the tremendous support for our athletes, who deserve the recognition, not just from within our community but of the wider sports industry and fans globally.”