Eric Lamaze, of Montreal, who won Olympic show jumping gold in 2008, does not want to talk publicly about his cancer at the National tournament. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Eric Lamaze, of Montreal, who won Olympic show jumping gold in 2008, does not want to talk publicly about his cancer at the National tournament. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Lamaze wants to focus on sport, not his health, on his return to Spruce Meadows

CALGARY — Eric Lamaze competing at Spruce Meadows this week will inspire his fellow riders, says a Canadian teammate.

Lamaze revealed during a television interview with a sports network in France last month that he’s been dealing with a brain tumour for over a year and a half.

His public relations firm confirmed Lamaze’s condition, but provided no further details.

The 51-year-old from Montreal, who won Olympic show jumping gold in 2008, does not want to talk publicly about his cancer at the National tournament.

Lamaze wasn’t at Spruce Meadows on Tuesday, but issued a statement.

“I have shared my story and now I want us all to move on and focus on sport,” he said.

“When I get to Spruce Meadows, I want to be treated like everyone else. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts, but I want to focus now on sport and hopefully strong results.”

Lamaze is the all-time leading money winner at Spruce Meadows at over $3 million.

The National, in its 44th year, is the traditional kickoff to the outdoor tournament season at the equestrian facility in southwest Calgary.

The tournament, Wednesday to Sunday, offers $1.35 million in prize money.

Saturday’s $500,000 Grand Prix is the premier event with the top riders in the world competing in the 1.6-metre competition. Lamaze is a two-time Grand Prix winner.

Vancouver’s Tiffany Foster, who has competed alongside Lamaze internationally for nine years, says his presence this week will be lauded by the riding community.

“He’s always been known as a real fighter in the ring,” she said Tuesday.

“Everybody knowing that he’s going through this, I think if you asked any rider on the circuit right now, they would tip their hat to him and have so much respect.

“When you see what he’s going through and how he’s doing it, he’s really pretty inspirational to me. When I think I’m having a bad day, I think about what he’s going through. It doesn’t seem too bad.”

Lamaze claimed Olympic gold in the individual event and silver in the team event in the 2008 Beijing Games aboard Hickstead.

He completed his set of medals with a bronze aboard Fine Lady at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Lamaze took a six-month break late last year, but returned to competition in April with Fine Lady and other horses from his Torrey Pines stable.

“I guess everybody deals with those things in their own way, but I know for Eric to be able to compete and do what he loves, that’s the best medicine,” Foster said.

“I think it just sort of shows again how much strength that guy has in him to do what he was doing all through the last year. The people close to him knew what he was going through. He just kept going.”

Ian Millar, 72, announced his retirement last month after competing in 10 Olympic Games for Canada.

He won team silver with Lamaze in 2008 as well as four Pan American Games gold in his career. Millar and Lamaze have been Canada’s international leaders for the last decade.

Canada’s team for this summer’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, will be named following The National.

Canada can qualify a show-jumping team for the 2020 Olympic Games by finishing in the medals in Lima.

World No. 1 Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, defending Grand Prix champion Kent Farrington of the U.S. and decorated American rider Beezie Madden are among the international stars competing at Spruce Meadows this week.

Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, Alta., finished second to Farrington in the 2018 Grand Prix.

Carlsen was 22 when she helped Canada win team gold at the 1987 Pan Am Games aboard Kahlua.

Carlsen and Kahlua competed the next year at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where Canada was fourth in the team event.

Having established rapport with her “difficult” mare Parette, the 54-year-old from Okotoks, Alta., is angling for a return to the Pan Am and Olympic Games.

“A little bit of a rebirth,” Carlsen said. “I wish I had my horse Kahlua now in my career because I think he was a great horse and I didn’t know what I was doing back then.

“Now, I can bring a horse like Parette along, who has been a very difficult horse to bring a long, so my experience for sure has paid off for me doing that.”

Carlsen competed in her first Nations Cup for Canada in almost 30 years in 2018. Millar, Lamaze, Carlsen and Calgary’s Kara Chad were second at September’s Masters at Spruce Meadows.

“My goals have always been the Olympics again,” Carlsen said. “That hasn’t gone away.

“I just haven’t had the horse power behind me. I really feel this mare and I are coming into our own together and are a good team. I really hope I’ll be considered for the Pan Ams and maybe the Olympics.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Workers were busy getting a tall crane in place Thursday morning for the construction of the new courthouse in downtown Red Deer. The facility will include modern technology and replace the existing courthouse upon completion expected in spring 2023. Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Work on Red Deer Justice Centre progressing

Construction of the new courthouse in downtown Red Deer was visible Thursday… Continue reading

The City of Red Deer is including $1 million in its 2021 operating budget, just in case Westerner Park’s pandemic cancellations continue and it needs more support next year. (Advocate file photo)
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance responds to a question during a news conference Friday, June 26, 2020 in Ottawa. Vance is ordering his troops to be ready to pick up COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. and Europe on short notice, and prepare to help distribute the doses while responding to floods and other emergencies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence chief says CAF will be ready after ordering COVID-19 vaccine prep last week

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to… Continue reading

Geoff Neville poses for a photo with his sons Casey, 3, left, and Ryder, 6, in this undated handout photo. Geoff Neville is a rotational worker in Newfoundland and Labrador who works in a mine in Nunavut for 14 days in a row and then gets 14 days off to come home and see his family. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Geoff Neville
‘I’d love to be home:’ N.L. rotational workers facing bullying online

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — As Geoff Neville waited this week in a… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti arrives for a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday November 26, 2020. The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Bill to enshrine UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Nancy McInerney, Kevin Martin, Olds Mayor Michael Muzychka, Chelsea Carey and MLA Nathan Cooper pose for a photo during the ticket launch for the Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup in Olds from April 29 to May 3 in October. The event has been rescheduled for 2022. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Olds misses out on Champions Cup again, event penciled in to return in 2022

They say waiting is the hardest part for curling fans in Central… Continue reading

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

Mikael Kingsbury, of Canada, trains during the FIS Freestyle World Cup skiing competition Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Park City, Utah. Kingsbury will miss moguls races for the first time in his World Cup career after suffering a back injury in training on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Swinger
Canadian moguls star Mikael Kingsbury out four to six weeks with back injury

MONTREAL — Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury will miss moguls races for the first… Continue reading

Detail of James Wilson Morrice's "LaPlage."
James Wilson Morrice canvas outperforms at auction with more than million-dollar sale

A canvas by Montreal-born artist James Wilson Morrice exceeded expectations with a… Continue reading

Bank buildings are photographed in Toronto's financial district on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. International comparisons suggest Canadian financiers are oiling the wheels of the fossil fuel industry at a far greater rate than their peers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
‘Canada really sticks out:’ Studies show banks not so green on climate change

International analyses suggest Canadian financiers are oiling the wheels of the fossil… Continue reading

Goals galore for Ronaldo, Giroud, Neymar in Champions League

Goals galore for Ronaldo, Giroud, Neymar in Champions League

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is seen at a media availablity to introduce new pitcher Shun Yamaguchi in Toronto on January 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Jays ‘prepared’ if things pick up on free agency and trade fronts this off-season

Jays ‘prepared’ if things pick up on free agency and trade fronts this off-season

Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, left, and teammate Taylor Austin are shown during training in Whistler, B.C., in this undated handout photo. Montreal Allouettes running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence is used to pysching himself up to sprint down a field, evading a crush of muscled men the entire way. But mentally preparing for his latest venture required bracing for a whole new set of anxieties. As he got ready to hop in a bobsleigh for the first time, Murray-Lawrence knew he'd be zipping down an icy track faster than cars are allowed to travel down most highways. Murrary-Lawrence, 27, is one of three CFL players who joined the national bobsleigh team after the league canceled its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Shaquille Murray-Lawrence
Sliding into a new sport: CFLers turn to bobsled after football season wiped out

Sliding into a new sport: CFLers turn to bobsled after football season wiped out

Most Read