LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Holger Schmezer, Germany's two-time Olympic champion dressage coach, died while his team was competing in the Netherlands. He was 65.
Schmezer was found dead in his hotel room in 's-Hertogenbosch, where three German riders are competing at the World Cup finals, the International Equestrian Federation said Friday.
"The loss of Holger Schmezer is a terrible blow to the German Dressage team, and to lose such an inspirational coach in an Olympic year is tragic," Princess Haya of Jordan, the federation president, said in a statement.
Schmezer coached Germany's team dressage gold medalists at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Games. He was to step down after the London Olympics.
The federation said German riders Isabell Werth, Helen Langehanenberg and Nadine Capellmann wore black armbands in his honor Friday.
Langehanenberg, who placed second in the Grand Prix event, said the team discussed late into Thursday night whether it should compete.
"It was really hard for everyone — completely unexpected," she said. "In the end it was our opinion that Holger would want us to ride. That was his aim, why he came here, so we had to do it for him."
Capellmann and Werth were gold medalists at the Beijing Olympics. They placed ninth and 10th on Friday.