Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

Varela, Bodo Named Jumping Course Designers For 2024 Paris Olympic Games

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Santiago Varela Ullastres of Spain and Gregory Bodo of France will be co-course designers for the show jumping and the show jumping portion of the eventing competitions at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, appointed by the FEI board on Dec. 6.

Gregory Bodo and Santiago Varela

Gregory Bodo (left) and Santiago Varela Ullastres. FEI Photo

Varela, 54, is a four-star technical delegate and course designer in jumping. He is perhaps best known for his work as course designer for jumping and the jumping test of eventing at the Tokyo Olympics where his designs were lauded for their vibrant colors, creativity, sensitivity to Japanese culture as well as the challenges they set for riders while remaining respectful of horse and athlete welfare.

Varela was introduced to horses as a child and began designing courses at the Club de Campo de Madrid (Spain) in 1984 at the age of 14. A year later, he qualified as a “local course designer.” In 1993 Varela was promoted to international course designer status. He achieved FEI Level 4 course designer status in 2013. He has built courses for Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers and finals. He has been a technical delegate for jumping at competitions including the FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy (France) in 2014 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Brazil).

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Santiago Varela’s course designs at the Tokyo Olympics drew praise for their creativity and incorporation of local culture. Pictured here, Simon Delestre of France riding Berlux Z in the show jumping team qualifier. FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst Photo

Bodo, 44, has being building jumping courses internationally for over 20 years. He officiated as the assistant course designer at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, where he first cooperated with Varela, and the FEI Jumping European Championships for Children, Juniors, and Young Riders 2017 held in Šamorín (Slovakia).

In 2017 Bodo built his first Longines FEI Jumping World Cup qualifier in Lyon, where Varela was assistant course designer. Since then, Bodo and Varela have held these roles every year except for 2020 when the show was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bodo has served as assistant course designer at the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final in Paris and the Tokyo Olympics, working once again alongside Varela, as well as many FEI Jumping European Championships.

Bodo was promoted to four-star technical delegate and course designer status, the highest level for an FEI official, in 2019 and is currently one of only two French course designers in jumping to have achieved this degree of excellence.

“We are delighted to have appointed Santiago Varela and Gregory Bodo as the jumping co-course Designers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

“As is always the case for the Olympic Games, we went through a thorough evaluation process and selected two individuals both of whom hold a wealth of experience and are renowned for their dedication and impeccable work ethic. The designs created by Santiago Varela and Gregory Bodo are stunning and combine huge expertise with unique local flavor. Most importantly, they always put the horse at the core of their thought process and produce courses mindful of the welfare of both our equine and human athletes.

“Santiago Varela and Gregory Bodo have worked together on numerous occasions and will make a great team. I am convinced that with their knowledge, creative spirit, and professional attitude, the equestrian community, the spectators and the fans around the world can expect Jumping courses of the highest quality. With the equestrian events scheduled to be held in Versailles [France] with the historical château as the uniquely beautiful backdrop, these are set to be truly exceptional Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

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