Looking Back - Remembering Reiner

In July of 1999, my husband JJ Hathaway and I visited with Dr. Reiner Klimke and his lovely wife Ruth. The only equestrian to win six Olympic medals, I asked him to show JJ his collection and with a gentle sparkle in his eye, he responded by draping all six around my neck, as he told the tale of each Olympic Games. We then went into the back yard to Ruth's garden and stood next to the "Klimke" roses (yes in Germany they even named a rose for him!) and took one of the most cherished photos I will ever have.

As guests for the evening in his home, we ate Ruth's wonderful cooking, drank wine, and talked for hours about the sport, and fun things like his family trip through America for his 60th birthday three years before. "My wife, Rholf, Michael, and Ingrid traveled along the California coast and down to Mexico for one month." Klimke recalled. "After that trip, I feel my life is complete."

For the past six Olympic Games, Klimke was the historian for the German book, which is produced each Olympic year featuring thorough coverage, including his commentary on every dressage ride, not just the top 12. He showed me a book from the 1932 Olympic Games held in Berlin written by his mentor, Gustaf Rau, who implored upon the rising German Dressage star the importance of preserving the history of the sport. He was looking forward to continuing his contribution for the 2000 Games in Sydney. Then as a gift he gave me the last three books, rounding out my collection from our first visit in 1982, when he gave me the first three.

One month after our visit "The Doctor" passed away from a sudden heart attack that took from us the greatest horseman the world has known. As the Dressage phase of the 2000 Olympic Games begin, we dedicate our coverage to him.

Mary Phelps-Hathaway

Olympic Daily Index