Legendary Swiss Olympic jumping athlete Willi Melliger passed away on Tuesday 16 January following a stroke. He was 64.
Together with his gelding Calvaro, they were the dream team, winning the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the team silver at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney (AUS).
Willi Melliger was the most successful Swiss rider at championship level of all time. He won a total of 13 European medals, including individual gold in Gijon (ESP) in 1993 and 3 team gold medals at Hickstead (GBR) in 1983, Gijon (ESP) in 1993 and St Gallen (SUI) in 1995.
After retiring seven years ago from international competition, Willi Melliger devoted himself to training young riders, notably taking the reins of the Swiss junior and young riders squad until 2016. During this time, as acting coach, he contributed to the success of the Swiss young rider Jumping team when they won the bronze medal at the FEI European Jumping Young Rider Championship in Millstreet (IRL).
“Willi was the most successful Swiss Jumping rider of all time,” FEI Director Jumping John Roche said. “His achievements in the arena have left an everlasting impression on the sport not only in Switzerland but also worldwide.”
“Willi had great success on many horses, including Calvaro, Van Gogh, Quinta and Beethoven, one of the signs of a true horseman. He was not only a successful rider but also an excellent trainer and organiser of national and international events at his home in Neuendorf. In spite of all his success and fame Willi remained a very humble person. His untimely passing leaves a void in all our lives. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his three children, Kevin, Kay and Michele and all the family during this difficult time.”
News on Willi Melliger’s death from the Swiss Equestrian Federation is available here.
Jumper Nation extends its most heartfelt condolences to all of Willi’s loved ones in this unspeakably hard time. His legend will live on with us all.