Debby Winkler (née Malloy), wife of German Jumping legend Hans Günter Winkler, has passed away following a tragic riding accident. Mrs Winkler was seriously injured in a fall at the end of a training session on 18 February and was rushed to the University Clinic in Münster in critical condition. Sadly her injuries were too severe and, despite the best possible medical care, she died on 21 February. She was 51 years of age.
American-born Debby Malloy married five-times Olympic champion Hans Günter Winkler in 1994, having trained with him in Warendorf since 1986. Debby Winkler was successful in many Jumping events, her greatest achievement being a second place finish in the Frankfurt Grand Prix in 1998 with Sakrus HG.
Debby Winkler was a close personal friend to FEI President HRH Princess Haya, who said, "There is a comfort in knowing that horsemen and women who move on from our world, straight from the saddle, have done so on the terms they would have wished for. And yet I cannot find the words to justly pay tribute to Debby. She was so quiet in her ways, so kind and accepting, so humble and gentle that one would have thought she would live forever.
Many of us get into this sport in pursuit of personal greatness and sporting ambition. The race of people like Debby who get into it, and stay with it, for the love of the horse in its absolute purist form, are rare. Rarer still are the ones who strive to conquer the philosophy of the sport and the art form. That was Debby. In her, horse sport has lost one of the greatest human beings and horsewomen it ever had.
My heart goes out to Debby’s beloved husband, and to the Malloy family, for a wife and a daughter who quietly touched so many people in the most profound way, with eternal elegance and dignity. Rest in peace, Debby. We know, beyond all doubt, that every horse in heaven is waiting for you."
The FEI offers sincere condolences to Mrs Winkler’s family, to the German equestrian community, and in particular to her husband Hans Günter Winkler, the only Jumping rider to win seven Olympic medals, and the only equestrian athlete in any discipline to win medals in six editions of the Olympic Games.
The memorial service for Debby Winkler will be held on Tuesday 1 March, at 2pm at the German Olympic Equestrian Committee (DOKR) in Warendorf (GER). Media representatives wishing to attend are requested to register by 2pm on Monday 28 February using this form.
Photo caption: Debby Winkler riding Sakrus © Julia Rau