International Technical Official in the sport of eventing, Kardella’s Michelle Debenham, will be representing Australia as an Olympic official in Japan.


IT’S only going to be the very select few who see the Tokyo Olympics live.

Leongatha’s Eleanor Patterson is one of them, selected in Australia’s athletics team, to compete in the women’s high jump on Thursday, August 5 (qualifying rounds) and Saturday, August 7 (final).

Another local selected to play an important role at the Tokyo Olympics is international eventing official Michelle Debenham of Kardella.

This is Michelle’s first visit to Japan, however she has officiated overseas regularly in past years at events including Kihikhi Kihikhi in New Zealand, Hartpury Horse Trials, Houghton Hall and Badminton Horse Trials in the United Kingdom and more recently in 2019 Blair Castle in Scotland.

Understandably she’s delighted to have received the call-up even given the pandemic circumstances.

“It’s a real honour to be one of very few internationals to be able to go,” said Michelle this week.

She said she’s quite confident about the arrangements being made by Japanese and Olympic organisers to protect athletes and officials.

“They’re taking every precaution to protect games’ participants.”

Michelle will be heading to Japan in mid-July to officiate at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games horse eventing, especially the spectacular Cross Country Team and Individual competition at the purpose-built Sea Forest Cross-Country Course on Sunday, August 1 between 7.45am and 11.10pm.

The cross country is the second of the three events in the equestrian sport of eventing, also including dressage and show jumping.

Michelle is an International Technical Official in the sport of eventing.

Her role’s main focus is the cross-country phase of the competition. This involves managing a sector of the cross-country course and assisting local and international Volunteer Fence judges.

A lifelong horse-riding devotee, Michelle rides locally with the Stony Creek Riding Club and is a coach at local pony clubs including regularly at Corner Inlet Pony Club.

Purpose built, cross-country course in Japan.

Michelle Debenham with Australian Olympic eventing legend Andrew Hoy at Houghton Hall International Horse Trials in the U.K. Photo Credit: Peter Shaw.

Michelle Debenham on the cross country course in Scotland at Blair Castle Horse Trials. Photo credit Sally Swiers.