Who's Who

Pessoa, Rodrigo

Discipline : Showjumping

Born : 1972


Following in his father, Nelson’s footsteps, Rodrigo has had an amazing career as an international showjumper. He has participated in six Olympic Games in a row, from 1992 to 2012, taking home individual gold on Baloubet du Rouet at Athens in 2004, and in all the WEGs except Aachen, taking gold on Lianos at Rome.

Riding Baloubet, he won three World Cup finals in a row: 1998, 1999 and 2000.

In an interview in Z Magazine (December 13 / January 14) Rodrigo gives a potted version of his illustrious career:

“I was 18 when I first started in the WEG at Stockholm (1990). Thanks to my father, I owe everything to him. Today you see again young riders who make their breakthrough at an early age, sons of… , such as Olivier and Nicola Philippaerts. I had the same dream start, because I could start from an already existing, well organized structure, I was given the right coaching early and the right horses at the right time and off I went.”

There was a period, with Baloubet du Rouet, that you were permanently in the top five of the world. At present, you are in the top fifty. What does this tell about you?

“Things were difficult these last few years, bad luck with horses, injuries. That, too, is inherent to the career of a rider. And believe me, your horse getting injured is the most disheartening factor there is, You do anything to avoid injury, you even do much more for your horse than you would do for yourself to keep fit and sound. When you are then faced with an injury after all, you face the unsurpassable wall of powers beyond control. Because you do not understand why and do not know how long recovery will take. That is the worst that can happen to a rider. But that was in the past. Now, fortunately, I have a string of 7 to 11 year old horses that I expect a lot from. However, in spite of the adversity in the past few years, I never dropped out of the top 60. All things considering, that is not too bad. Am I now interested or motivated to become the number one again? Not really, I no longer have that craving…”

“In the past I dreamt of winning the World Cup, the WEG, Aachen, I had all those dreams come true. Now I still have one dream: the Olympics in my own country… winning or at least reaching the platform. Then I could stop at a real peak.”