Olympic Veteran Daniel Bluman Switches Flags to Ride for Israel

Daniel Bluman and Apardi competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Daniel Bluman and Apardi competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Daniel Bluman and Apardi competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Two-time Olympic veteran Daniel Bluman, who has represented Colombia in international competition for the last eight years, has changed nationalities to compete under the flag of Israel.

Bluman, who was born in Medellin, Colombia and calls Wellington, Florida home, has been the highest ranked Colombian rider on the FEI Jumping Rankings since 2011. His achievements since the beginning of his international career in 2009 have spanned appearances in two FEI World Equestrian Games, two Pan American Games, and a successful Olympic debut at London 2012, where he finished within the top 20 individuals as one of the youngest competing riders.

“We had an amazing Colombian federation these past eight years, that really made an effort to help us riders achieve great things,” 26-year-old Bluman said. “With our federation supporting us, we made many championships, and the success wasn’t only on an individual level. As a team we worked hard to have the results we got.”

The Colombian Equestrian Federation saw changes in recent months, with President Cesar Camargo Serrano stepping down, and chef d’equipe Marcel Delestre ending his contract as well.

Bluman has long held dual citizenship with Israel through his mother Orly Bluman, who hails from the European nation. Israel has been working to increase its presence in show jumping, and with major supporters and owners expressing renewed desire to be involved with Team Israel, Bluman was approached with a proposal to switch flags.

“Everything came together with the right timing to allow me to make the decision, and a smooth transition,” Bluman commented. “There were a lot of things to consider. I love Israel and I love everything that it means. I have always been very close to Israel. I went to Hebrew school growing up, and my grandfather, who is a Holocaust survivor, was three years in Auschwitz.”

This year, Bluman married Ariel Epstein, an amateur rider who represents Israel in competition. He currently has the strongest string of horses of his career, with six mounts competing at the international level. His 2012 Olympic partner Sancha LS is expected to make a comeback to competition in 2017, and he recently gained the ride on Ladriano Z, which his cousin Ilan rode to notable success at Split Rock this fall. His Rio 2016 partner, the KWPN stallion Apardi, is currently his top grand prix mount.

Under Israel, he looks forward to competing at a future European Championships, and while he feels a strong connection to Colombia as its most successful rider in recent years, he will not be leaving as big of a void as one might assume.

“There are many other successful Colombian riders, and I think they’re going to be just fine. When I started there wasn’t much happening with Team Colombia, but in these years Team Colombia has now achieved great things,” he said. “I remain Colombian, I love the country, I love my teammates, but this is an opportunity I cannot let pass.”