German showjumping legend Hans Günter Winkler will be honored on his 90th birthday at Aachen 2016 in July.
Winkler is the only equestrian in any discipline to compete and win medals in six different Olympic Games. He is best known for his partnership with the great mare, Halla.
The five-time Olympic gold medallist, two-time World Champion and three-time winner of the Rolex Grand Prix has long had an affinity with the Soers venue, and Aachen is returning the favour with a special 90th birthday celebration during the World Equestrian Festival, taking place from July 8 to 17. His milestone will be marked during a big gala evening on July 15.
“The Soers is my second home,” Winkler declared this week.
Former competitors will be taking part in the birthday celebrations, as well as aspiring young talents, and there will be a review of the early years of Winkler’s equestrian achievements, his Olympic career will be highlighted, and Halla will be remembered.
Winning the World Championship title in Aachen 60 years ago is his greatest memory of Aachen.
“Successfully defending my title as world champion is very memorable. But, above all, I will never forget the special atmosphere of fair sportsmanship between myself and my good friend, Raimondo d‘Inzeo, when I won the world championship title as the last rider in the jump-off and my defeated friend rushed over to congratulate me in a wonderful sign of sporting fairness and recognition,” he said in an interview last year.
Like the legendary victory of the German national football team at the World Championships in 1954, Winkler’s Olympic victory in 1956 in Stockholm remains an unforgettable part of German sporting history. After an injury, he only just managed to keep himself in Halla’s saddle by calling on his last reserves of strength and determination, but he was ultimately rewarded with individual and team gold.
Winkler first competed at Aachen in 1949, and it was the venue where his retirement from competition was announced 30 years ago.
“In the 37 years between 1949 and 1986, a family-like relationship developed between the crowd in Aachen and myself, which turned the Soers into my equestrian living room. You’d have to ask the people from Aachen themselves why they are so fond of me, instead of me,” Winkler said.
Tickets for Friday, July 15, are available online at www.chioaachen.de or from the ticket hotline on +49-(0)241-917-1111.