Eric Lamaze, owner of the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals, has retired from Equestrian Canada’s shortlist for the Summer Games. Three years of treatment for a brain tumor, the global COVID-19 situation and Canada’s inability to send a full show jumping team to Tokyo have taken his decision into account.
“My health is something I take very seriously, and I have decided that Tokyo is not the best place for me,” Lamaze said in a statement Monday.
“Although my health is stable at the moment, there are several risk factors that need to be taken into consideration. “
Canada will not participate in the team event in Tokyo and will send only one horse-rider combination.
Lamaze was one of five athletes announced by Equestrian Canada for its shortlist.
The 53-year-old Montrealer won individual gold and team silver in 2008 in Beijing aboard Hickstead, and individual bronze in 2016 in Rio with Fine Lady.
WATCH | Olympic Flashback: Eric Lamaze’s historic performance in Beijing:
Lamaze and Hickstead were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.
Lamaze, who lives in Brussels, Belgium, believes the world remains in a precarious position because of the pandemic. Equestrian events are just beginning to return to the European calendar.
“With everything we’ve been through this year and what we still see with so many people going through horrible situations in Canada and around the world, I’m not even sure I would feel good about winning a medal,” Lamaze said in his statement.
“The Olympics are a celebration of the athletes and I don’t think we’ll have a real party in Tokyo. Now is not the time to celebrate. “
No Canadian Show Jumping Team for Tokyo
Canada cannot send a show jumping team to Tokyo because it was deprived of its fourth place finish at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.
Nicole Walker has tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine. She said she inadvertently ingested the substance while drinking coca tea, which is a common drink in Peru.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed that Walker had not intentionally taken a banned substance, but said he had no authority to overturn the decision of the Pan American Disciplinary Commission which excluded Canada from the fourth and last Pan American qualifying spot for Tokyo.
Lamaze’s withdrawal leaves Amy Millar of Perth, Ont., Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Mario Deslauriers of New York and Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, Ont., As Olympic candidates for Equestrian Canada.
Lamaze, Ian Millar, Jill Henselwood and Mac Cone won a team silver medal in Beijing in 2008.
Lamaze, Foster, Amy Millar and Yann Candele lost a play-off with Germany for the bronze medal in Rio.
“I’ve always associated the Olympics with riding for the Canadian team,” said Lamaze. “My success is because my teammates are there to come together to be the best we can for our country.
“Having my owners there, my friends and teammates, and all the fans, that’s what makes the Olympics special for me. When you walk into the stadium, hear the fans screaming and see the Canadian flags waving, it elevates you to another. level.
“In solo, I don’t see myself finding the motivation to dig deep enough to win an individual medal. I can’t be a real competitor without my team. “
Lamaze intends to compete in the 2022 World Championship in Denmark, where Canada could qualify a team for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
The owners of several of his horses, including Dieu Merci van T&L, support his decision to withdraw from the Olympics, he said.
“I thank Mark and Tara Rein for their full understanding of the situation and for their continued support,” said Lamaze.
“With this difficult decision made, we can now focus on continuing to develop the fantastic young horses that we have in our training program. “