Celia Rijntjes, who has groomed for Rolf-Goran Bengtsson for 13 years, won the award for Best Groom at the FEI Awards Thursday night. Celia and Rolf both worked in the Netherlands for medallist Jan Tops. Rolf set up his own stables in Breitenburg, Germany in 2003 and offered Celia a job. She has looked after the Olympic silver medallist's top horses ever since.
Rolf is full of praise for Celia. "You could not find a better groom for your horses or to take responsibility for your stables," he said. "She is always on top of things and always puts the horses' needs above her own. I never have to worry one minute about the horses or the arrangements made for them."
Celia has worked at Olympic Games, FEI World Equestrian Games™ and Rolex FEI World Cup™ Finals, among other events, where she has also supported the Swedish equestrian teams. Anders Mellberg, President of the Swedish Equestrian Federation, has praised her reliability and team spirit.
The HSBC Rising Star Award went to Tom McDermott from Autralia. McDermott's meteoric rise to success on Australia's elite jumping scene has been impressive. Not only has his talent earned him Equestrian Australia's Young Athlete of the Year title for the second time, he is also the first athlete in his country to become both National Junior Champion and Young Rider Champion. In addition, he holds the National Young Rider of the Year title for the second year.
In 2011, Tom enjoyed success on the senior circuit, competing at Gawler, South Australia in his third Jumping World Cup qualifier and winning it. This year he has followed up that victory with a second World Cup qualifier win at the Sydney Royal Show. After three months' training in Germany this year with acclaimed trainer Gilbert Bockmann, Tom took the Young Rider and Senior titles at the Australian Jumping Championships in September – another feat that no other young athlete in his country has achieved. The future of this rider, who competed in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, could not look brighter.
Celia and Tom were awarded in front of 300 guests in Istanbul. HRH Princess Haya, President of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body of horse sport, congratulated the winners of the FEI Awards 2012. Addressing an audience of more than 300 guests, including representatives of the FEI's 132 member federations, FEI sponsors and Turkish VIPs, the FEI President said: "The FEI Awards were launched in 2009 to show the world what extraordinary people there are in the equestrian community and to reward them with public recognition of their work. This year's winners have demonstrated talent, commitment, generosity and courage and we are extremely proud of them."
Congrats to Celia and Tom!
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