In August, Ludger Beerbaum will have his sights on winning his seventh and eighth European Championships gold medals. The show-jumper is one of the most successful sportsmen of all time. At the "Menschen 2014" (People 2014) Gala in Aachen on Wednesday evening, he chatted with the President of the DFB (German Football Association) Wolfgang Niersbach about the past year, but of course, Beerbaum is also particularly directing his attentions towards the future: To the super equestrian sport year 2015.
Question: You will be competing in Aachen twice this year, are you really looking forward to this double home game?
Ludger Beerbaum: I am not on my own there, either. I think all of the show-jumpers, who have the opportunity to compete at both the World Equestrian Festival and the European Championships, are extremely looking forward to this year. It is simply fantastic to ride here in Aachen.
Question: Can one describe the special atmosphere in Aachen? What does it feel like for a show-jumper riding into this arena?
Beerbaum: A lot of different phrases have been used to describe Aachen, such as the Mecca or Wimbledon of equestrian sport. This atmosphere, the whole flair of the show days, the special stadiums, the spectators – all of this is what makes Aachen so special. Incidentally, the horses also sense the atmosphere. Many young horses are very impressed, almost overwhelmed. On the other hand, many experienced horses even perform slightly better in Aachen, they are even more motivated.
Question: The crowd in Aachen cheer the riders on enthusiastically. Is the crowd an additional incentive?
Beerbaum: Yes, it really gets under your skin. All of the athletes are celebrated in Aachen, particularly the Germans and me possibly even a bit more. I always sense a particularly surge of euphoria here.
Question: How important are the FEI European Championships in your own country for you?
Beerbaum: They are of enormous importance. Everything is focused on these European Championships in 2015, for me August will be the highlight this year.
Question: Will you take the opportunity to watch the other disciplines during the European Championships?
Beerbaum: I will have to wait and see if such an opportunity arises – at other Championships, it is difficult because the competition sites are located too far away from each other, whereas in Aachen the routes between the sites are very short, so it might be possible. But, of course, principally I am extremely focused on my discipline.
Question: How do you rate your chances – in May and at the European Championships?
Beerbaum: Two important prizes are at stake here: In May the prize-money for the Rolex Grand Prix and in August the medals. Quite honestly: I would like to get a slice of both pies.