Nick Skelton Named FEI “Best Athlete,” Sönke Rothenberger Awarded “Rising Star”

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Sönke Rothenberger on Cosmo, nine years-old, awarded FEI "Rising Star" award.  2016 Ken Braddick/
Sönke Rothenberger on Cosmo, nine years-old, awarded FEI “Rising Star” award. 2016 Ken Braddick/

TOKYO, Nov. 22, 2016–Olympic jumping champion Nick Skelton of Great Britain was named the FEI “Best Athlete” for 2016 and German Olympic team gold medalist Sönke Rothenberger won the “Rising Star” award.

Nick Skelton’s groom Mark Beever was declared International Equestrian Federation “Best Groom,” Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla took home “Against All Odds” award, while the “Solidarity” award went to Morocco National Federation/SA Charif Moulay Abdellah Alaoui.

In addition to the Rising Star award for persons aged 14 to 21 (Sönke is now 22 years old but was 21 at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro) he was also presented with a Longines Conquest Classic watch.

Sönke Rothenberger and his mount, the nine-year-old Cosmo, made their debut as the youngest combination competing in Olympic dressage in Rio. The pair also was on the winning team at the CDIO5* in Aachen, Germany this year, was the German Young Rider champion in 2014, won European Young Rider team gold and individual bronze in 2014, European Ponies team gold and individual silver in 2009, European Ponies double gold in 2008, European Ponies team gold and individual bronze in 2007.

“To receive this award is a great honor for me,” Sönke said. “There are so many other people who would deserve this, but to be the one who receives it, well it’s just amazing and the icing on the cake for everything we have experienced this year. I am really surprised and thankful and never expected that the FEI would honor me with this prize. Thank you again very much.”

Nick Skelton won individual Olympic jumping gold in Rio with Big Star. Nick took team silver and individual gold at the European Championships for Juniors in 1975 and at senior Europeans, he has won three gold, three silver and three bronze medals with the British team over 26 years. In 1980 he competed in the alternative Olympics where he was on the British silver medal team and at the age of 54, Nick was on Britain’s gold medal team at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

He broke his neck in September 2000 which could have ended his career, but after retiring in 2001 he recovered and began competing again in 2002. He has also had a hip replacement and two knee operations.

“I would like to thank the FEI for this most fabulous award,” he said. “I’ve had an incredible year and this award makes it even better. I would like to thank the team that is behind me and Big Star for all their hard work and patience.”

Mark Beever, winner of the grooms award, has worked for Nick for 31 years.

The five categories in the FEI Awards 2016 attracted a record number of nominations from the public