July 5, Nations Cup day of the CHIO Aachen (Germany), brought good and bad news for German dressage. The good news was that the young German team easily won the Nations Cup ahead of Denmark and the Netherlands. The bad news was that Matthias Alexander Rath said he definitely wouldn’t be able to ride in the 2012 Olympic Games.
On June 22, the German Federation announced that the 27-year-old rider was sick with mononucleosis and wouldn’t be able to participate in the CHIO Aachen, Germany’s second mandatory outing for team consideration. However, Rath was still being considered for the team, and his father and trainer, Klaus-Martin Rath, was keeping Totilas in work.
Since Matthias’ blood values had improved, selectors from the German Dressage Committee and the German Olympic Committee of Equestrian Sports were going to travel to Kronberg, Germany, where Matthias lives, on July 6 to watch the horse and rider in training.
“Five minutes before Helen Langehanenberg, our last team rider, was entering the arena, I received a call from Klaus-Martin Rath that Matthias Rath had become worse again and that he needs further medical treatment,” said Klaus Roeser, the head of the German Dressage Committee at the press conference in Aachen. “The doctors have strictly recommended he suspend any sport activities, and therefore he has to renounce the possibility of his Olympic participation. This is a shock for all of us.”
With Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW, Matthias on Totilas and Kristina Sprehe on Desperados NRW, the top three finishers from the German Championships, the German team would’ve had three combinations that could have achieved over eighty percent at the Olympic Games. German team coach Jonny Hilberath insisted that the selectors will wait until the end of the Aachen show to make a final announcement, but the most likely riders to fill Matthias’ spot would be Anabel Balkenhol on Dablino or Dorothee Schneider on Diva Royal, the other two riders who competed on the German Nations Cup team at Aachen.
“It was my great dream to compete on this unique horse with this great young team in the London Olympics,” said Matthias. “But the German team doctor stated that the health risk would’ve been too big after today’s analysis of my blood values.”
So, for now, Matthias will have to hope that he can keep the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion fit enough to compete with him in the 2016 Olympic Games.