Reform Underway for Canadian Eventing High Performance Program

Following an in-depth review, Equine Canada (EC) has embarked on reforming the Canadian Eventing High Performance Program, with the focus of creating a stronger 2016 Rio Olympic Games high performance program.

To meet these goals, EC recently initiated a comprehensive third-party review of the Canadian Eventing High Performance Program, centred on athlete feedback, to evaluate the program, address concerns, and create a professionalized program for the years ahead. The findings of the review were brought forward to a planning summit, held in Toronto, ON in September 2015, facilitated by John Coumbe-Lilley of Learn2Peak and Ozzie Sawicki of Pozitive Results Sport Strategies.

The summit involved a cross-section of stakeholders with athlete, owner, management, technical, and committee representatives. The attendees were presented with a report on the current state of affairs of the program and were committed to addressing programming gaps through recommendations they deemed necessary to improve athlete performance.

Strong progress has been made in delivering on the summit recommendations, with a summary as follows:

  • New Elite and National Team High Performance Squad criteria have been developed in line with the objectives set at the summit.
  • The 2016 Rio Olympic Games Selection Criteria have been finalized and are being prepared for circulation.
  • The roles and responsibilities of eventing selectors have been redefined to align with the objectives of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Selection Criteria.
  • A stronger High Performance plan for eventing has been developed through to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, including an integrated competition and training plan that reflects the team philosophy, while ensuring individualized athlete planning requirements are considered.
  • The Eventing Team Coach role for Clayton Fredericks will now have a clearly defined level of accountability and performance measurement through the High Performance Advisor position.
  • An Eventing Rio Team Athlete Workshop was held on Nov. 8, 2015 in Toronto, ON with the purpose of communicating the High Performance Program changes to Elite and National Team squad athletes.
  • Progressive changes will be made to the Canadian Eventing Committee’s governance structure to bring it in line with top class sport structures. This will include dissolving the high performance committee and transitioning high performance decisions and accountability to a streamlined, efficient, and functioning high performance leadership team under the oversight of the Canadian Eventing Committee and the Equine Canada High Performance Director, Amie O’Shaughnessy.

To ensure ongoing delivery of the high performance plan, Sawicki will remain on contract as a High Performance Advisor for the eventing program in a consultative role until the conclusion of the 2016 Rio Olympics. As a Canadian and international sport leader with extensive experience consulting for a multitude of sports, Sawicki will play a critical role in developing a sustainable Eventing High Performance Program in all non-technical areas. The longer-term needs for high performance leadership will be evaluated after the 2016 Rio Olympics.