For the first time, Omega was the official timekeeper of the FEI World Endurance Championship 2005, held on January 27th. The brand's role, as official timekeeper and sponsor, is in keeping with its tradition of timekeeping prestigious international events.
Endurance is a relatively young sport but one that is exceedingly challenging for the competitors, their steeds as well as the timekeepers, due to the distances involved. Omega's history of over 150 years of watchmaking and over a century of timing the world's most renowned sporting events makes it the perfect partner for a race with such a complex timing system. Omega was in fact appointed as the first-ever official timekeeper of all disciplines at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, since when the brand went on to be official timekeeper at a further 20 Olympic Games. Last year, Omega announced a return to this prestigious arena as official timekeeper of the 2006 Turin Olympic Games, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
Omega's involvement with the FEI World Endurance Championship is a logical progression from its sponsorship of the Triple Crown Final Race, held in Dubai last year. Endurance races forms part of the company's strong focus on the world's most prestigious sports, where the brand's top-level involvement includes title sponsorship of golf's Omega European Masters and Omega Hong Kong Open as well as official timekeeping of such gruelling sailing events as The Transat and Ellen MacArthur's record-breaking round-the-world solo sailing voyage.
Endurance races place the highest demands on horse and rider, with the 160km race split into five parts to allow for veterinary checks to ensure that the horses are in sufficient condition to continue. Though the winner's time was a record-breaking 7 hours and 4 minutes, finishing in good condition is just as important as finishing in a good place. In the individual standings, gold went to France's Barbara Lissarague, with the team from Italy taking the team honours. His Highness Sheihk Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum received the medal for conditioning for his seven-year old home-bred horse.
The brand's respect for - and admiration of - the spirit of the races, where horse and rider must work together with determination and perseverance, is a reflection of its philosophy. Omega watches are built to endure: the flawless combination of engineering excellence and refined style ensures long-term existence and undying elegance. The importance that the company attaches to this event was underscored by the presence of Mrs Nayla Hayek, the member of the Swatch Group Management Board responsible for the Middle East, Mr Raynald Aeschlimann, Vice-President of Sales for Omega and Mr Milvin George, Brand Manager of Omega for the Middle East. Famous Lebanese singer Carole Samaha and UAE Olympic Double-Trap gold medallist Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher al Maktoum also added an attractive celebrity touch to the event, which was rounded off with a gala dinner to celebrate the association between the FEI World Championship and Omega.
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