Rodrigo Pessoa Recieves 2010 Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Diploma

Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) was tonight awarded the 2010 Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Diploma for his generous act of fair play during the Rolex Final Four to decide the individual Jumping medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ last October.

The Brazilian Jumping rider, 1998 World and 2004 Olympic champion and triple FEI World Cup™ winner, was one of the final four fighting for the individual gold. The other challengers were 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Canada, Belgium’s Philippe Lejeune, who had taken part in four FEI World Equestrian Games™ and eight FEI European Championships, and the young Saudi rider Abdullah Sharbatly for whom competition at this level was a first. While Sharbatly was getting ready to ride Pessoa’s horse Rebozza, he asked the far more experienced Brazilian for some guidance. Pessoa explained at length how to ride the horse, pointed out the most difficult fences, and gave his opponent advice on how to tackle the course. The Saudi rider used Pessoa’s advice to great effect, going on to secure the silver medal, while Rodrigo finished in fourth place just out of the medals. His generous spirited gesture was acknowledged by loud applause from the spectators in Kentucky.

Pessoa is one of three 2010 Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Diploma recipients, the other two being Bulgarian judo player Yoana Damyanova and triathlete Raquel Mafra Rocha of Portugal, both of whom competed in the first edition of the Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore last year. Football player Amin Motavassel Zadeh from Iran, decathlete Darius Draudvila from Lithuania and Chinese wrestler Gao Feng were awarded the 2010 Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy.

Highlighting equestrian sport’s place on the global sporting stage, the FEI was nominated for the 2010 Willi Daume World Fair Play Trophy for the promotion of fair play. The FEI nomination was for the Federation’s inclusion of Para-Equestrian Dressage as one of its disciplines. The AIPS citation stated, “FEI is the only international federation which includes a special event for the disabled athlete in its World Championship Programme, one which is also of world class and where medals are presented.”

The FEI had been singled out for special mention by Emanuel Fantaneanu, a Eurosport Equestrian Commentator and Member of the AIPS Executive Committee, who commented in an editorial on the AIPS website following the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™: “I also believe another gesture of fair play comes directly from the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) for its inclusion of the Para Dressage. This is the perfect way to implement the values of sport in modern society.”

The awards were presented in the Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne this evening following an International Sports Press Association (AIPS) seminar, “Integrity in Sport – Illegal Betting, the Threat”. IOC President Jacques Rogge gave the opening address at the seminar, which was attended by some of the world’s leading sports journalists, federation representatives and experts on the subject of corruption and illegal betting in sport. A total of 84 nations were represented amongst the 169 delegates in attendance. The 2010 Jean Borotra World Fair Play Trophies and Diplomas celebrating a sports career and life in the spirit of fair play, and the first ever AIPS Power of Sport Award were also presented at tonight’s gala ceremony. Rodrigo Pessoa was not able to attend the ceremony as he is currently competing in Wellington, FL (USA).

The International Committee for Fair Play (CIFP) was founded in Paris (FRA) on 5 December 1963 by representatives of AIPS, UNESCO, the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), and the international Basketball, Football, Rugby and Wrestling Federations. The committee’s prime aim was (and still is) to support and promote fairness and equal opportunity and to formally pay tribute to those men and women, children and adolescents and sports-related organisations throughout the world who have exhibited Fair Play on the sporting field or throughout their careers, or who have conducted an activity promoting Fair Play.

AIPS, as a founding CIFP member, organised the 2010 World Fair Play Awards with the support of the World Lottery Association and European Lottery Sport as major partners. The City of Lausanne and Canton de Vaud also supported the event.

Italian bobsledder Eugenio Monti was the very first winner of the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy. Monti sacrificed his chances of winning a gold medal at the 1964 Innsbruck Winter Games by giving his British opponents a part to fix their broken bobsled. The act of giving a bolt to the opposing team resulted in the British winning the gold medal.

Photo caption: Rodrigo Pessoa competing in the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. © Dirk Caremans