ric Lamaze has broken his silence regarding the “health concerns” that sidelined him from CHI Geneva last fall, acknowledging that he’s been battling a cancerous brain tumor.
In an interview with RMC Sport during Longines International Jumping of La Baule last weekend, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist recalled the difficulty of the last 1.5 years and the fear he felt in openly discussing his devastating diagnosis. (Editor’s note: The quotes from this story have been translated from French.)
"It took me a very long time to be able to discuss it with the people around me," Eric, 51, said. "The last thing I wanted was to scare them. I did not know how to tell them.”
He withdrew from his friends, the media, and at times, the competitive jumping scene, but felt determined to continue to ride at all costs, for as long as he was physically able.
Eric walks the course with Team Canada at La Baule CSIO de France.
“I was going to go to bed very early, I was trying to keep riding. I had made the decision to continue riding until the day it would not work anymore. The head was fine, but the body said no. And then I made the decision to leave (the United States) because I thought it was the end."
Following a six month break from international sport, Eric returned to competition at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival where he placed 12th in the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix. He continued fighting forward, competing at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami, and most recently placed second in the Prix FFE-Generali at the Longines International Jumping of La Baule and represented Team Canada in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of France.
One of his biggest supporters and confidantes during this private, difficult time has been none other than Eric’s Olympic successor, Steve Guerdat.
From Left: Tiffany Foster, Tim Wilks, Mark Laskin, Eric Lamaze and Kara Chad at La Baule CSIO de France.
“He was fantastic," recalled Eric, emotionally. "I'm sure that without him, many things could have gone wrong.” For Eric, Steve’s support was a lesson in friendship and acceptance. “I learned to accept what happened, to accept what might go wrong in the future, and I learned that friendship is worth gold."
We wish Eric, his family, and the entire team at Torrey Pines the very best during this difficult time and encourage the community to voice their support for Eric’s continued fight and recovery.
Feature photo: Eric on Chacco's Kid during the La Baule CSIO de France.
Photography by Sportfot.