When the Swedish Equestrian Federation announced Chef d’Equipe Sylve Söderstrand's departure in a press release last night, it came as a big surprise. With the Olympic Games in Rio coming up in only a few months, the Swedish riders see themselves without the man who has played an extremely important part in much of their success – such as the team silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games and the bronze medal at the 2011 European Championships.
Talking to World of Showjumping, Söderstrand himself admits that he was among one of those caught by complete surprise by the fact that he will no longer continue as Chef d‘ Equipe.
“I had a conversation with Ulf Brömster in the Swedish Equestrian Federation on Saturday afternoon, and he had my word on the fact that I would stay on as Chef d’Equipe until after the Olympics. There were only a few minor points to be talked through, and we agreed to go through them this week so that the agreement would be totally clear. So, when I was called up by Mr. Brömster on Monday afternoon I thought it was in this regard, but instead he told me that the board had held a meeting and they had unanimously agreed on ending our co-operation as of the 22nd of May,” explains Söderstrand.
“I will have to reach out to the Swedish Olympic Committee and the riders, and also take this all in myself. As you can understand it is quite turbulent at the moment, as nobody knew anything.”
Söderstrand also points out how the press release from the Swedish Equestrian Federation makes it sound like his departure was agreed upon. “It sounds like we have made this decision together, and we have not. My intention was to stay until the Olympics was over. That was my promise to the riders, the Swedish Olympic Committee and the federation.”
Several of Sweden’s best riders have voiced their support towards their former Chef d’Equipe in Swedish media during the day. Among them are Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann. “It is extremely unfortunate to do this just a few months before the most important event of the year. Hopefully the last word has not been said, and we will do as much as we can to keep Sylve until the Olympics,” says Bengtsson to Tidningen Ridsport.
Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Jenny Abrahamsson
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