February 2, 2023 – With the Pan American Games on the horizon in October 2023 and the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games only 18 months away, the High Performance Advisory Group - Jumping (HPAG) and Equine Canada (EC) are pleased to announce Ian Millar, CM as the new Technical Advisor (TA), Jumping for Canada’s national show jumping team.
Well known beyond the equestrian world, Millar of Perth, Ontario is the most successful competitor in the history of Canadian show jumping. He is the twelve-time Canadian National Champion and has competed in more Olympic Games than any athlete in history.
“Everyone at EC and the Canadian team are feeling proud that Ian has chosen to share his knowledge, passion and experience in a mentorship and development role that will support the team now and into the future,” said EC’s CEO Meg Krueger. “I think not only the athletes, but everyone will benefit from his guidance and infinite interest in making the sport better. And we know he likes to win, too!”
“It has been my great honour to ride for Canada for the better part of 50 years,” said Millar when asked about taking on this role. “This is my opportunity to give back and it is with further honour that I do so.”
A self-professed lifelong learner, he shared how the role is both a culmination of what he brings and what groundwork has been laid before him. “In my time representing Canada, I have known and learned from over a dozen Chefs d’Equipes,” he continued. “Each of them have been great leaders in their own right and I will take that team spirit with me as I embark on this new role.”
The Canadian Team of Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster, Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar on the podium at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto after winning gold. Photo Credit: Cealy Tetley
Ian Millar's appointment follows the January 11, 2023 announcement that Eric Lamaze would not return to the role at the end of his one-year contract on January 31. In addition to Lamaze's experience on the Canadian Equestrian Team, he brought his resilience, fervour, and knowledge to the role over the last year. The show jumping athlete from Montreal has been battling brain cancer since 2017 and last competed for Canada in September 2021 when he anchored the Canadian Show Jumping Team to victory in the BMO Nations’ Cup at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta.
“Eric brought his passion and enthusiasm for the sport to the role of Technical Advisor, and we want to thank him for his year working with our team athletes and the program,” said James Hood, EC’s Director – High Performance. “With his improved health, we look forward to seeing him back in the saddle and continuing his coaching.”
Ian Millar has plenty of Pan American Games experience to share having represented Canada at ten of the continental sporting events spanning five decades where he has won ten total medals including four gold, four silver, and two bronze. In his last appearance as a rider at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, he took home team gold alongside teammates Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster, and Eric Lamaze.
Of all his accolades, Millar's team wins and experiences are his favourite achievements in the sport. “I’ve won a lot of Grands Prix and individual titles, but nothing is better than winning a Nations Cup alongside three other Canadians.”
“I’ve never had any prouder moments than anchoring a Canadian team,” Millar shared. “Representing our country, that has motivated me from the beginning.” That sentiment is well known by fans and is one of the reasons he has become known as Captain Canada. Everyone in and outside the sport know and feel how much Team Canada means to him – with the emphasis on team.
Ian Millar acts as a consultant to Ontario Equestrian (OE)'s GRIT (Great Rider Intensive Training) youth development program that is open to OE members aged 13 to 30 in all Olympic disciplines. Photo Credit: Andree-Anne Brunet Photography
“A team made up of individuals rarely wins championship titles,” Millar explained his perspective. “It has to be a team; with that feeling and that spirit that every team rider has each other’s back and they all work in a synergistic manner.”
Not surprisingly, he felt he could accept this new challenge, because he knows he’s not going into it solo. “This role is impossible to do alone. It takes everyone involved - horses, riders, grooms, owners, EC, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Own the Podium, sponsors, backers, everybody that’s involved – it’s a huge group effort and everyone has to work together to make it happen. I believe that I have the support."
Beyond the work of building national teams to send to international competitions, EC has additional aspirations for Millar in the role of TA. “Ian has a long-standing interest in NextGen athlete development and is central to several programs already,” said Hood. “With him in this role, we will be able to work on plans for up-and-coming riders and capitalize on Ian’s holistic view of the equestrian sport system to grow it overall. That’s important to the future of our sport.”
“The role of Chef is not just the top tier, it also involves younger riders,” agreed Millar. “I plan to be involved in the sport and work with Dayton Gorsline, the Jumping Youth Development Program Advisor, and with young riders. I want to know where the riders of tomorrow are and want to watch them develop and if I can assist in anyway, I am available.”
With the Pan American Games only eight months away, Millar will be getting to work with the team immediately. Team Canada is happy to have the captain on board and are ready to work alongside him.
Main Photo: Ian Millar and Star Power (Quick Star x Calvados) competing in Millar's recording breaking 10th Olympic Games at London 2012. Credit: Cealy Tetley