International jumping judge and former FEI official Francis Michielsen has died at the age of 72 after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
Michielsen died peacefully in hospital in Belgium on October 24.
Born on August 7, 1941, Francis Michielsen started judging at national level in Belgium in 1967 and became an FEI International Candidate Judge in 1984. By 1992 he had moved up through the ranks to become an FEI Level 4 judge, the highest rank in the FEI system.
He was a member of the Ground Jury at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and adjudicated at numerous FEI Championships worldwide, including as President of the Ground Jury at both the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games in Rome (Italy) and the 2005 European Jumping Championships at San Patrignano (Italy).
Michielsen was a member of the FEI Jumping Committee from 1994 to 1998, and was also a founding member and first President of the International Show Jumping Officials Club (ISJC) until he stepped down in 2009.
He was an FEI Course Director for FEI Judges, passing on his incredible depth of knowledge to his fellow jumping officials and to a new and younger generation, both at national and international level. He played a key role in the introduction of the “modern” education system for FEI Jumping Judges in 1993.
A former President of the Belgian National Federation, holding office immediately before current President Jacky Buchmann, he was also on the board of the Belgian Show Jumping Committee for many years and President of the Show Jumping Committee of the Flemish Equestrian Federation (Vlaamse Liga Paardensport).
FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos expressed his sadness at the loss of such a close friend: “This is very sad news. Francis was a personal friend of mine for many years and taught me a lot about equestrian sport. We worked closely together in the Belgian National Federation and at many international shows. As a member of the FEI Jumping Committee he contributed enormously to the establishment of the Jumping Rules. As an international judge he was very well respected and known for his knowledge of the rules and their application, but also for his integrity and fairness. I will miss him.”
John Roche, FEI Director Jumping, also paid his respects. “Francis Michielsen was a complete gentleman and one of the FEI’s most respected officials. He was totally dedicated to the sport and contributed tremendously to the education of other officials in his capacity as an FEI course director. The equestrian world has lost one of its greatest officials and friends. He will be greatly missed.”
To send a message of sympathy, contact the Belgian Equestrian Federation, on [email protected]. All messages will be passed on to Francis Michielsen’s wife, Carine Van Gompel, and family.