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Para Equestrian Championships: Opening speech

Speech by Her Highness Princess Märtha Louise at the opening of the Para Equestrian Championship, August 2009.

County governor,
Dear friends,

First, let me express a very warm welcome to you all, and especially all our international visitors. We are truly honoured to have you here in Norway for this important event. It is wonderful to have so many para-equestrians, teams, officials, volunteers, family and friends joining us in this southern area of our long narrow country. You have made all the hard work and preparation worthwhile!

Being here in Lillesand, I would like to remind us all of a native athlete from this lovely city, Ketil Moe. Despite his short life with cystic fibroses, he participated in the New York marathon several times. He worked passionately to show the importance of physically challenged athletes and their significant role in the global sport and the paralympic movement. I feel that this championship is precisely in his spirit, that we all have the possibility to catch the dream, and live it out.

This continental championship is the highest level FEI Equestrian event which Norway has ever hosted. And that is fitting for a country which takes such pride in equality and rights for all, including sports.

There is something unique about equestrian sports. The relationship between the horse and the athlete is special and decisive for success. Being a rider, a horse person, and a physiotherapist, I have seen and experienced myself, the vital effect the horses have on humans in general, but especially the impact they have on people with disabilities in order to develop and improve their abilities. Horses have become increasingly important partners in our physical and psychological therapeutic treatment programs.

As i look around, I can really feel your anticipation, excitement and nervousness. That feeling takes me back to the times I have spent in some of your countries in jumping competitions. And these are happy memories indeed.

I wish you all a pleasant stay in Norway, and the best of luck in the competitions the next days. Finally, I hereby declare the FEI European and Open Para-Equestrian Championships 2009 for started.


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