Farewell to the Legendary Willi Melliger

Farewell to the Legendary Willi Melliger
Willi Melliger (SUI) riding Calvaro at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games © Fotograf Jan Gyllensten AB
Willi Melliger (SUI) riding Calvaro at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games © Fotograf Jan Gyllensten AB

Legendary Swiss show jumper Wilhelm “Willi” Melliger passed away on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 following a stroke. He was 64.

Melliger and the Holsteiner gelding Calvaro were the dream team, winning Individual Silver at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and Team Silver at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (AUS).

At the championship level, Melliger was the most successful Swiss rider of all time. He won a total 13 European medals, including 1993 Individual Gold in Gijon (ESP), and three Team Gold medals at Hickstead (GBR) in 1983, Gijon (ESP) in 1993, and St Gallen (SUI) in 1995.

After retiring from international competition in 2011, Melliger devoted himself to training young riders, most notably taking the reins of the Swiss Junior and Young Riders Team until 2016. During this time as acting coach, Melliger contributed to the success of the Swiss Young Rider Jumping Team, who were bronze medalists at the FEI European Jumping Young Rider Championship in Millstreet (IRL).

“Willi was the most successful Swiss [show jumper] of all time,” said FEI Director Jumping John Roche. “His achievements in the arena have left an everlasting impression on the sport not only in Switzerland but also worldwide.”

“Willi had great success on many horses, including Calvaro, Van Gogh, Quinta and Beethoven, one of the signs of a true horseman. He was not only a successful rider but also an excellent trainer and organiser of national and international events at his home in Neuendorf,” said Roche. “In spite of all his success and fame Willi remained a very humble person. His untimely passing leaves a void in all our lives. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his three children, Kevin, Kay and Michele and all the family during this difficult time.”

The FEI extends its deepest sympathy to Willi’s family and friends, and to the Swiss Equestrian Federation.

News on Willi Melliger’s death from the Swiss Equestrian Federation is available here

The funeral service will take place on Monday, February 5, 2018, at 14:00 in St. Martin’s Church, Olten.