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Young Riders Academy Team 2017 graduates in Geneva

Tuesday, 13 March 2018
Young Riders Academy 2017

Photo (c) YRA/Fabio Petroni Photo (c) YRA/Fabio Petroni

The Athenaeum Board in Geneva has graduated the athletes from the fourth year of the Young Riders Academy program.

Francesca Ciriesi (ITA), Kendra Brinkop (GER), Michael G Duffy (IRL), Matt Garrigan (IRL), Adam Grzegorzewski (POL), Guido Klatte (GER), Niklas Krieg (GER), Karin Martinsen (SWE) and Andrzej Oplatek (POL) were the riders from the 2017-team who graduated.

The team was welcomed at the FEI headquarters in Lausanne, then visited the Rolex headquarters in Geneva to learn about sponsoring and partnerships to end with the Reward Ceremony.

“At the time, a few years ago, when we started to consider this project, we would never have imagined ending up dealing with such a scenario. We were not expecting to live and enjoy so many exciting situations with these athletes, as we actually are,” stated Eleonora Ottaviani, member of the board and one of the founders of the Young Riders Academy project.

“Our goal, with the support of the best professionals, is to make these guys and girls aware of what a great champion needs as extensive knowledge in veterinary, anti-doping, legal issues, fair play and ethics, marketing, business and economics; to allow them to live next to their idols for a period of time and to give them the chance of entering showgrounds all athletes dream of. To watch them coming out with a smile of satisfaction, to perceive their happiness and gratitude …all this is priceless!” Ottaviani said. 

“The program has improved my knowledge on horses and stable management and the time spent at Henk Nooren’s had been just invaluable as a rider,” commented Francesca Ciriesi from the 2017-team.

“It takes more than being a rider to become a champion,” remarked Michael G Duffy immediately after the Diploma’s ceremony. "Today at the Rolex HQ the management declared their success over many years is down to attention for details and I believe the same rule applies for success in showjumping,” stated Duffy.

At the end of its fourth edition this project met the endorsement of federations, top riders, organizers and sponsors. Thanks to the partnership with the Franklin University in Switzerland, the University of Uppsala in Sweden, EPFL Polytechnic of Lausanne and key experts in showjumping it was possible to create a link between sport and scientific and cultural environment.

In a few weeks the 2018 selections take place in Arezzo and Redefine, and other riders will be designated. This does not mean that the current team will be part of the past. 

“During the year in the Academy, riders meet each other and, hopefully, a friendship is established, creating a group to trust and to share everything with. What we have done in past is to start the process of building bridges between different years,” explained sport director Sven Holmberg. “We have invited riders from all years to common clinics in Opglabbeek, under the guidance of Jos Lansink, in Balve with a training by Franke Sloothaak. Once a rider enters the program and achieves it, he or she will permanently be part of our team, because a YRA team member will always be a member and during the years to come we will continue to build on this concept to strengthen the bonds in our family”.



The Young Riders Academy is a program conceived for European talented young show jumpers, under the patronage of the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), with the cooperation of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) and the support of Rolex.

Founded in 2014 by Athenaeum, a non-profit association, the program will give European talented riders between the ages of 18 and 23 the chance to train for a long period at a well-known professional stable. In addition, professional education in communication, business and economics, veterinary and legal practice related to show jumping. The objective is to develop future champions as well as potential managers of this sport.


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