‘You made me a better person’: horse who won the 2000 Olympics dies aged 33

  • Dutch showjumper Jeroen Dubbeldam has said a sad farewell to De Sjiem, the horse he rode to win the individual gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

    “With a heavy heart we say goodbye to De Sjiem,” said Jeroen on social media.

    The beautiful grey KWPN gelding with Nimmerdor bloodlines had reached the tremendous age of 33, having spent his retirement at the Dutch rider’s stables, named ​​Stal De Sjiem in his honour.

    Jeroen, who went on to be crowned world champion in 2014 and European champion in 2015, said he was “grateful for all the amazing success you brought me but mostly for all the lessons learned and time spent together”.

    He described De Sjiem as “a friend, a teacher and a companion; you made me better, as a rider and a person. You have been part of all the success stories, even long after your retirement. Thank you for teaching me, thank you for everything”.

    At the 2000 Olympics, three riders tied on four faults after the final two rounds so all three had to jump off for the medals. Jeroen and De Sjiem were crowned the Olympic champions as the only combination to jump clear, beating their faster rivals who each had a fence down. This was the Netherlands’ first gold medal in the sport. Silver went to Jeroen’s countryman Albert Voorn (Lando) and finishing with the bronze was Khaled Al Eid of Saudi Arabia.

    Among the many tributes pouring in for the gelding after he passed away, dressage rider Anky van Grunsven said she had “beautiful special memories of De Sjiem, together with Bonfire in Sydney” while Jeroen’s fellow showjumping team rider Jur Vrieling said: “What a beautiful life De Sjiem had with you.”

    As well as being crowned Olympic champions, Jeroen and De Sjiem competed at two European Championships and two World Championships and won the Aachen grand prix in 2001.

    Jeroen also said a big thank you to “all the people involved in De Sjiem’s career, and all the people behind the scenes taking the best care of him over the years, in particular Tonnie and Femke giving him the best retirement possible.”

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