Italian showjumping legend Raimondo D’Inzeo died at his home in Rome on Friday at the age of 88.
D’Inzeo became a national hero when he won the showjumping gold medal at the 1960 Olympic games in Rome, riding Posillipo. He was an officer in the Italian cavalry and he and his elder brother Piero became the first athletes to compete in eight Olympic Games, from 1948-1976.
D’Inzeo also won two silver medals and three bronzes at the Olympics. He was also flag bearer for Italy at the Games in Mexico City in 1968.
As well as his Olympic success, he was also an individual medalist in four World Championships. In 1955 he won silver on Merano at Aachen, and the following year at the same venue, won gold on the same horse. He won gold in 1960 in Venice with Gowran Girl ahead of his brother Piero who won silver, and in 1966 won bronze on Bowjak.
Born on February 2, 1925, in Poggio Mirteto, north of Rome, Raimondo d’Inzeo was the son of renowned equestrian Carlo Costante d’Inzeo, chief instructor in Piemonte Reale, the Royal Piedmontese Dragoons, the smartest regiment in the Italian cavalry, and later dean of the equestrian faculty of the Italian sports university La Farnesina in Rome.
Raimondo d’Inzeo took up riding at the age of 10 and became so scared when he was first on horseback that his father told him to leave the arena. “But then at home every evening Piero and Papà were always chatting about horses and riding that I felt excluded,” he recalled in an interview, “so I decided it was worth giving horses a second chance – and fortunately I did!”
In 1950, Raimondo d’Inzeo joined the Arma dei Carabinieri, the Italian military police. He bore the title of General at the moment of his death.
He was a founding member and former President of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC), which was created in June 1977.
Earlier this year in May, Raimondo D’Inzeo was among recipients of a special award marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the dell’AONI – Italian Olympic Academy. The award was made in the Hall of Honor of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) by dell’AONI President, Mauro Checcoli, a former president of the Italian Equestrian Federation (FISE); and CONI president Giovanni Malagò. Current FISE President Antonella Dallari was also in attendance. She was thrilled that there was an equestrian representative at the ceremony, “thanks to Raimondo D’Inzeo”. “The hope is to see equestrian sports represented again in the future in high-profile ceremonies.”
D’Inzeo’s passing has had a major impact on the Italian sporting world, with Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago declaring a minute’s silence before all sporting events in the country on Saturday and Sunday.
“Raimondo d’Inzeo was a true icon, and one of the most successful horsemen of all time,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said. “He was a special kind of rider who could win every type of class, from Grands Prix to Puissance to speed classes, and he had incredible success with so many different horses. He was a true horseman and he will be very sadly missed.”
The FEI expresses its sincere condolences to Raimondo d’Inzeo’s wife Giuliana, his brother Piero and the wider d’Inzeo family, to his extensive circle of friends and the global Jumping community.
D’Inzeo’s body lay in state at the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) committee’s headquarters until his funeral on Monday, November 18 at the 4th Mounted Carabinieri Regiment in Rome’s Viale Tor di Quinto, which was attended by hundreds of people including representatives of the Italian authorities, media, friends and his 90-year old brother Piero.
Raimondo d’Inzeo is survived by his wife Giuliana, and his brother Piero.
Below: Raimondo d’Inzeo talks about the 1960 Rome Olympics, plus color footage from the competition.
Updated November 19, 2013