A standing ovation greeted four Olympic showjumping legends as they made a welcome return to the ring at the CSI5* Jumping International of La Baule in France on Saturday, 10 June.
The 1990 world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Éric Navet of France, his countryman Frédéric Cottier, who won team bronze at the 1988 Olympics, Germany’s dual Olympic gold medallist Lars Nieberg and Sydney Olympic silver medallist Markus Fuchs of Switzerland all competed in the Trophée des Légendes Platinium Sellier, presented by Sports Équestres Militaires.
In this charity event, each competitor rode four horses provided by the Sports Équestres Militaires in rotation over a showjumping track, all under the watchful eye of Brazilian showjumping icon Nelson Pessoa, who sponsored the event.
Spectators were thrilled to see their heroes of yesteryear in action and many of this year’s five-star competitors were also ringside to appreciate the skills of their predecessors.
Showjumping legend Éric Navet: ‘We didn’t expect to ride in front of full stands’
The winner was 64-year-old Éric Navet with a clean sweep of four clear rounds, much to the delight of his home crowd.
“I’m so pleased to have relived these moments here, where I have great memories, such as the European title in 1991, with this superb crowd in La Baule,” said an emotional Éric, who also won a brace of team gold medals at the world championships, in 1990 with Quito De Baussy and 2002, during a glittering showjumping career.
“All four of us are really moved by the passion the fans show for this event. We really didn’t expect to ride in front of full stands. I’d like to give special thanks to my friend Frédéric Cottier, who is behind this initiative, and to the organisers and Sports Équestres Militaires, as well as the great four who ride the horses, which performed really well for us.
“We are really moved by what has happened this evening,” he added.
Finishing second was 67-year-old Markus Fuchs, who just picked up four faults in the opening round. The oldest of the quartet, 69-year-old Frederic Cottier, claimed third and Lars Nieberg, 59, who won gold in Atlanta in 1996 with the legendary stallion For Pleasure and only retired from competition in 2021, was fourth.
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