Olympic showjumper swaps nationalities

  • After 10 years of competing for the Ukraine, showjumper Katharina Offel will be returning to her roots and representing Germany in future.

    Since 2005 Katharina has competed at three European Championships, three World Equestrian Games and two Olympics for the Ukraine. The country has also qualified for Rio 2016.

    “I have decided to stop the co-operation for good and will no longer be at the team’s disposal,” she said.

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    “As a natural development I will return to represent Germany from 1 January 2016. This is a choice I feel very happy and relieved to finally have taken. I have already spoken with the German Federation and Bundestrainer Otto Becker about my decision.”

    Owner Alexander Onischenko’s horses — Air Chin Z, Zipper and Quebracho Semilly — all returned to his stable Gut Einhaus, Germany on 11 September.

    “The current plan for Charlie — who I have had since he was a six-year-old — is that he stays with me until he has been sold,” she said.

    She added that now she runs her own stable she has more freedom.

    “I believe my decision to leave the Ukrainian team will allow me to focus on what I love doing; developing young and talented horses for the top level of the sport — working with a long term perspective for each horse and owner in the stable. Also, it will allow me to spend more time on training talented younger riders,” she said.

    “My decision will of course affect my sports career. A temporary step down from the highest level of the sport is a natural consequence of the situation I find myself in. I still believe I will be able to return even stronger than before with a more diverse group of supporters and owners.

    “I do have a small group of very talented horses that I keep on aiming for the higher level of the sport; Umeunig Z, Sky FIy SB and Vita 24. I am also lucky to have some promising youngsters in the stable, with the 7-year-old Con Air Z as my big hope for the future.”

    Katharina was born in Germany and spent her youth working as a groom for Alexander Moksel in Buchloe — where Ludger Beerbaum, Markus Beerbaum and Ralf Schneider were all based.

    She rode her first German Championship on Stroke of Luck and started to work for Robert Schiffelholz in 1996. She won the Germany Championship in 2004 however, she realised she would not get the opportunities she wanted in Germany so started competing for Ukraine in 2005.

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