It is an unusual picture to see the German show-jumping team during their press conference in Gothenburg: three riders (Maurice Tebbel, Laura Klaphake and reserve rider Simone Blum) are giving their championship debut and even Philip Weishaupt has never been part of the team. Only Marcus Ehning is a regular at championships. It is refreshing to see what Otto Becker’s team is like and it is apparent that they are in a good mood.
Laura Klaphake, daughter of Paul Schockemöhle’s horse seller Josef Klaphake said: “I felt the team spirit from day one. I think tomorrow we can ride into the arena with a good feeling.” The 23-year-old student has already participated in eight European Championships – of the young riders. She knows that this is something else. The young rider who was reserve rider at the Nations Chup in Aachen did not believe in a start in Gothenburg until it happened. “A good friend made a bet at the event in Hamburg; he said I would travel to the EC. I said no, never.”
Philip Weishaupt, on the other hand, had reason to dream about a participation before, two times he was part of the team – once of the team for the Olympic Games in London and at the EC in Herning – and both times his horse sustained an injury. “London was my worst moment,” Ludger Beerbaum’s assistant instructor told. He was nominated reserve rider two times. Now he is there and his Holsteiner stallion Convall is in good form: “He likes it here.” He added that now nothing could go wrong for his first start in a championship: “There is only one night left for something to go wrong.”
Maurice Tebbel, who was able to celebrate his sister winning silver at the EC of the young riders in Samorin two weeks ago, also has a good feeling: ” The first fences were good. But we’ll have to wait for tomorrow.” His goals? Getting a good result for the team “That’s what I’m focusing on,” so Tebbel answered to the question if he wanted to repeat his sister’s achievement. “It would be to much to believe in winning a silver medal like my sister.”
And Marcus Ehning is he the new alpha of the team like Otto Becker said? The experienced rider negates that “Over the last years I tried to participate just the same. I think it is not important for one to lead the team. I don’t see myself in any role. My colleagues all are very experienced, they have competed at so many European Championships. And even if they were only championships of the young riders: the sport is the same and the strain on the nerves is also the same. The difference here is that there is more attention when it goes wrong.” To the question which chance the German team had Beerbaum answered: “We could provide a surprise.”
National Coach Otto Becker added: “I don’t see any outstanding teams here. The Swedish will be strong because they are performing in their home country, but the Belgians are also good. The Italians had a strong season and the French are always good. But we’re looking to achieve a medal. We want to ride without worrying and we want to have fun. It is another situation as in Rio, where we had five exceptional pairs. But we are able to compete for medals.”
Otto Becker also announced the starting positions: Maurice Tebbel will start ahead of Laura Klaphake, third rider is Marcus Ehning and Philipp Weishaupt will follow. Otto Becker explained why he will not let an experienced rider start: “The day will be long. The young riders should not have to wait four hours and watch the others compete. That’s something for the older riders.”