21|09|2018 // WEG - Something to think about?

An interesting article written by Thomas Borgmann, author of the book “Micahel Jung: Vielseitig zum Doppelgold (Multitalented to Double Gold) for the Stuttgarter Zeitung/Stuttgarter Nachrichten – print edition.

The World Championship title was within her reach – but Ingrid Klimke won only bronze - 5th place for the German team - what is wrong with the chemistry in the German team camp?

“I know my Bobby is a good jumper!” Ingrid Klimke seemed to have no doubts about his capabilities. On Saturday during the 5700 meter long cross country course with two dozen difficult jumps their brilliant round was with without mistakes. A world class performance! On Monday she was the last rider to enter the jumping arena, her Hale Bob rattled 3 poles hard and at the last jump one fell onto the sand. That was the end of the dream of the world championship title; the bronze medal was barely a consolation prize. The reigning European Champion bravely assured all: “If someone had told me before the World Championships that I was going to win bronze, I would have been happy, however I am now disappointed”. She had no explanation for the final pole down.

Starting as defending champions of their title from 2014, the German team came away from the 14th World Championships since they started in 1966, without a medal but with the 5th place and the direct qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. The national trainer Hans Melzer commented; “Our goal was much higher. The qualification for Tokyo was the minimum aim.” For the first time since 2010 in Lexington/Kentucky when Michael Jung riding the legendary Sam won gold, there was no medal for the German team in an important championship. For the first time since 2009, the world’s best event rider couldn’t compete due to his mare Rocana being injured. However he had made the journey from Horb to Tryon to support his Polish student Pawel Spizak who finished in 22nd place.

For the very first time the 36 year old was critical in the face of the results produced by his team mates: “More than 50 of the 70 horses competing completed the cross country course without jumping faults!” A dig at Julia Krajewski, who had a “run out” with Chipmunk and had to accept the 20 minus points that accompanied it; at the Olympics in Rio, at the Europeans a year ago and not so long ago in Aachen the same thing had happened. Jung’s comment: “If you ask my opinion, Josefa Sommer from Immenhausen should have been nominated”.

It should however be noted, that at the special request of the national trainer, Michael Jung would have been happy to have helped the team at the World Championships as an adviser, unfortunately his experience wasn’t put to use: “There was only one single discussion between me and the national trainer, during which I gave him my impressions of the cross country course. That was all. I didn’t want to intrude.” The chance to walk the 3* course, designed by Mark Phillips, with the double Olympic gold medalist, World Champion and three time European Champion, to discuss the difficult questions was not taken up by any of the four riders.

Not even Ingrid Klimke, whose weaknesses in Show Jumping are apparent. For a long time she didn’t manage to step out of the shadow of her famous father: Reiner Klimke, who died unexpectedly in 1999, he began his riding career in eventing and went on to win six Olympic gold medals in dressage. When his daughter won her first gold medal with the team in her first Olympics in Hong Kong in 2008, she said, “My father would have been very proud if he had known that I now also have a gold medal at home”. In 2012 in London she won the second one with the team. However the mother of two daughters who started her international career in 1991, had to wait until 2017 before she could win her first important individual title that of European Champion in Strzegom in Poland. She has now failed to win the World Championship title and who knows whether she will ever get another chance. The relationship between her and Michael Jung can only be described as cold!

The rather turbulent days in Tryon have shown that after the departure of the brilliant British Co-Trainer, Chris Bartle two years ago and the loss of super star Michael Jung, internationally things aren’t quite so easy for the national trainer Hans Melzer and his riders. What took place during this World Championship shows that the chemistry between those involved is not quite right. Ingrid Klimke for example said before the World Championships: “We have won without Michael before”. However since 2009 this hasn’t been the case in the big championships, only in relatively unimportant team events. The national trainer’s opinion sounds very different: “You cannot replace a Michael Jung!”

By the way, the clever, always friendly smiling Chris Bartle, who worked for the German federation from 2001 until 2016 and guarantee for the many medals and titles from 2009 onwards – lead his British rider to a huge success: Gold for his team and gold for his student Rosalind Canter, who made this statement afterwards to the press: “In the last two years he has changed completely the way I ride, he has opened up totally new perspectives for me. For me he is a legend.” Bartle quit his job with the German Federation after Rio 2016 due to unfair criticism of his work. The Brits gladly took him back!

Translation: Heather Reimer
Original German: Thomas Borgmann for the Stuttgarter Zeitung/Stuttgarter Nachrichten