Gerrit-Jan Swinkels (67), President of Indoor Brabant, the world-famous equestrian event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED), died suddenly yesterday at the age of 67 while riding on the Belgian coast at Knokke-Heist in West Flanders. A passionate horseman, racing driver and diplomat, Swinkels was highly respected as a visionary and renowned for his ability to bring athletes, officials, sponsors and the media together to promote equestrian sport. He also used his natural entrepreneurial skills to make ground-breaking progress in the sport, including being a driving force as President of the Board of Directors of Springpaarden Fonds Nederland (SFN), which is dedicated to developing Jumping horses and creating winning Dutch Jumping partnerships at FEI Nations Cup™ events, FEI Championships and Olympic Games.
Swinkels became President of Indoor Brabant in 2002 and planned to hand over to his successor in 2017 during the event’s 50th anniversary.
“Gerrit-Jan was a wonderful person, and thanks to him the profile of equestrian sport has grown tremendously”, said John Roche, FEI Jumping Director. “The sport has lost one of its greatest friends, enthusiasts and supporters, and an immeasurable void has been left. We will all miss him greatly.”
Indoor Brabant has welcomed the world’s best indoor Jumping, Dressage and Driving athletes as part of the prestigious FEI World Cup™ series. The first of nine FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals was held at Indoor Brabant in 1986, with the first FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final staged here in 1994. In 2012, the first joint FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Dressage Final was then held, and many qualifiers for these series, and for the FEI World Cup™ Driving, have taken place at the Indoor Brabant.
“It has been a real honour to have Gerrit-Jan as a close personal friend,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “As well as a great sense of humour, he had the magnetism and drive needed to grow equestrian sport, and for this he was valued internationally. Indoor Brabant has been a huge success under his Presidency, with the event welcoming the world’s best indoor Jumping, Dressage and Driving athletes as part of the FEI World Cup series. The equestrian community has lost a true soul mate and my thoughts are with his wife Anja and the children.”
The FEI expresses its sincere condolences to Gerrit-Jan Swinkels’ family and friends, the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS) and the global equestrian community.