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  • Hans Gunter Winkler, German Giant of Equestrian Sport, 91


    07/09/18

    (ATR) Hans Günter Winkler is described as a "unique personality in equestrian sports and beyond”, “the most gifted horseman of his day”, “a role model”.
    Hans Gunter Winkler jumps in Stockholm in 1956.

    Winkler died July 8 in Germany after a long illness. He would have turned 92 July 24.

    His Olympic career as a show jumper started with the 1956 Olympics and the equestrian events that were held in Stockholm as a result of the quarantine preventing Melbourne from allowing horses to enter the country.

    Despite suffering a groin injury during the competition, Winkler and the legendary mare Halla won gold in the individual and team events. He would win three more gold medals, a silver and a bronze in the following five Olympic Games. Montréal in 1976, was Winkler’s last.

    While retiring from competition, Winkler remained with the sport as a trainer and as a event marketer. He was active with the German equestrian federation.
    IOC President Avery Brundage with Winkler in 1956.

    “Hans Günter Winkler has been a great sportsman during his career, and likewise, after he had retired from his active time, he did a tremendous lot for our sport, in particular for the juniors,” German Equestrian Federation President, Breido Graf zu Rantzau said in a statement.

    “Hans Günter Winkler was one of the greatest equestrian Olympians of all time and his tally of seven Olympic medals, five of which were gold, has been beaten in the modern era only by his compatriot Isabell Werth,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos noted in his comments on the federation website.

    “He was the most gifted horseman of his day and
    Winkler with Halla.
    a great ambassador for our sport. His loss will be deeply felt, not just in Germany but throughout the equestrian community and beyond. The word legend is so often overused, but it is the most fitting description of a man and an athlete who really was a true legend. May he rest in peace,” said De Vos.

    IOC President Thomas Bach said Winkler was an inspiration to him when Bach started competing as a fencer at the Olympics.

    “As a five-time Olympic champion, he has a firm place in the history books of Olympic and equestrian sport. With his great competitive spirit, Hans Günter was also a role model for me personally,” said Bach.

    “I will always remember the moment he led our Olympic team as the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Montreal 1976. He inspired us young athletes then and he continues to be an idol for generations of equestrians to this day,” said the IOC president.

    Reported by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.

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