5 May 2017
Interview with Károly FugliIt was announced this week that the FEI Bureau has approved a grant of financial support to eligible National Federations for the participation of athletes in the Four-in-Hand Driving Event at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA). Chairman of the FEI Technical Committee Driving, Károly Fugli (HUN) is the driving force behind this initiative.
“We started this lobby two years ago when the FEI World Equestrian Games™ were allocated to Canada,” tells Fugli, who has been the Chair of the FEI Driving Committee since 2011. “Knowing the results of the WEG in Kentucky 2010 (24 drivers from 9 nations), this was not a real World Championship for us. After the withdrawal of Canada and the allocation to Tryon, we continued our lobbying.
“We do not want a Championship where athletes who have a good chance to win a medal are unable to compete because of financial reasons, so that is why we started to convince the FEI Bureau to grant financial support for eligible National Federations to at least cover the airfare costs to transport the horses.”
Four-in-hands to remain on the programme
Fugli received the full support of his Committee members and developed a proposal on how to best distribute the sum of 500.000 Swiss francs that was granted by the FEI Bureau. With the acceptance of the proposal, the funding was activated, resulting in this fantastic news for the Driving Community.
“We have had a lot of discussions in the Driving Committee and with the FEI Bureau about the format of Driving at FEI World Equestrian Games. The best Athletes compete at the WEG and we felt that a format with mixed turnouts like with singles and pairs, would not be in favour of the Driving sport at WEG, so we decided to keep the four-in-hands on the programme. Our request for financial support was unanimously supported by the FEI President Ingmar de Vos as well as by the FEI Bureau and I am very thankful to them for this.”
Photo: Krisztina Horváth
Top hat and helmet
The financial support is provided by the FEI itself, no sponsors are involved. This in itself is an acknowledgement of the hard work Fugli and his Committee members have put in over the past six years: “I feel we have finally reached a take off moment to create a very strong position for Driving within the FEI. Our sport deserves to be in the spotlight, it deserves to be an equal part of WEG with its top drivers. I am happy that I have been able to contribute to this and I hope the Driving community will now forget my show jumping background and start seeing me as a Driving person. My driving top hat and my show jumping helmet have always been laying next to each other on the shelf, my heart lies with both disciplines and I fight for them both equally!”