Gerrit Nieberg: “It is not going to be a walk in the park for McLain!”
As a total outsider, he succeeded in claiming the victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen in 2022. This year all eyes are cast on Gerrit Nieberg and his horse, Ben. We spoke to the 30-year-old about how much he is looking forward to the CHIO Aachen 2023 and his “mission to defend the title”.
You brought the show to a perfect conclusion at the CHIO Aachen 2022 by winning the Rolex Grand Prix. How often have you watched your round, which was broadcast around the world together with the emotional TV commentary by Carsten Sostmeier, since then?
I don’t know exactly, but very often. And every time I watch the round it gives me goosebumps again. It was without doubt one of the biggest victories in my career to-date and for me and my family a sensational and very emotional moment. And to be honest, it took me quite a while for what actually happened to sink in. Every rider dreams about winning this class one day. And it makes it all the more special that I managed to do so that early on in my career.
How much have those 37 seconds in the jump-off changed your life?
It was a very sustainable success. People still keep congratulating me, even though it was already a year ago. This victory has indeed made my name more famous and the media’s interest in me has also increased enormously. But for me personally nothing has actually changed since. I am exactly the same as I was twelve months ago.
You are travelling back to the place of this historical triumph next week. How much are you looking forward to the CHIO Aachen 2023?
Immensely. This year even perhaps a little more than usual. And of course my expectations are higher too. We will try everything to repeat that moment once again. Ben is in super form. I am in super form. So, I am optimistic about the coming week.
When it comes down to the victory in the Rolex Grand Prix, a few other riders also want to have a say in the matter of course, especially McLain Ward. The US American could go down in history in Aachen as the second Rolex Grand Slam winner. How realistic do you think that is?
In principal, I think it is possible that he could pull it off. He is in super form and anyone who is acquainted with McLain knows that he will try his very hardest to win the class on Sunday. If he really succeeds in doing so, it really would be an historic event, and we would all be pleased for him. After all, each of us knows how hard it is to win the Rolex Grand Slam. But of course, just like all my colleagues, I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn’t a walk in the park for him.
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