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World Equestrian Games wraps up

Germany's Simone Blum won the Individual World Champion at the FEI World Equestrian Games. Germany's Simone Blum won the Individual World Champion at the FEI World Equestrian Games.

Germany’s Simone Blum made equestrian history as she was crowned Individual World Champion in the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Jumping Championship on Sunday as the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 concluded its two-week run at Tryon International Equestrian Center. It was a bright spot on the closing day of the games, which during its two-week run had its share problems made by man and Mother Nature.


The biggest sporting event in the U.S. in 2018 came with a promise of 500,000 visitors and a sizable economic spinoff. The attendance and the cash fell short of expectations, in part because the equestrian center was not done, the weather was hotter than normal and a hurricane plodded toward the site for days.

“Tryon marked my seventh World Championships and, in my opinion, it was the worst one ever held,” Eric Lamaze, an elite rider from Canada wrote on Facebook. “We heard stories in the lead-up to WEG and were aware that the facility was far from being ready but no one expected to turn up and find a dirty, unfinished venue that looked more like a construction zone than a sports venue. It was shameful. It looked like the organizing committee had made the least amount of effort possible to achieve the bare minimum that they could get away with.”

Lamaze criticized the VIP areas, the prices and the heat, which he said organizers should have reacted to by holding jumping events at night.

“To blame the hurricane for all the problems is not a valid excuse,” he said. “There was a lack of effort, lack of horsemanship, and lack of understanding of what it takes to run a World Championships, and a complete lack of understanding of what makes everyone happy to be there as owners, as riders, as sponsors, and as fans.”

At a news conference Friday, Tryon Equestrian Center owner Mark Bellissimo defended the games while taking responsibility for some things that went wrong, according to a report in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

“What’s most important to me is we have hopefully stepped up in a very difficult set of circumstances and did our best,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect, but I’m also a big fan of the (saying) perfect is the enemy of the good. We’ve tried to run something that was good.”

Blum, 29, became the first female Individual Jumping Gold medalist in eight FEI World Equestrian Games editions.
“I cannot believe it," said Blum, who won more than $90,000 in prize money in her FEI World Equestrian Games debut. "I cannot describe my feelings. It is just the perfect day.

"Alice performed the whole week without any jumping faults. She is such a careful horse with the biggest heart. I was a little bit nervous today, but I stayed focused and knew that if I rode well then she never normally touches a pole.

"There was a bit of pressure because Martin had a clear round and I wanted to be clear or maybe with one time fault. It is unbelievable what has happened. Alice is a very special horse and this week she showed her talent."