by Jan-Jaap Corré
For those who missed it: The international equestrian federation FEI had an intern and he made a mistake. As it is with interns. As a result, the owner of Dinja’s top horse Hermès, Joop van Uytert, has inadvertently been linked to the German address of a horse owner with whom he works. Dinja is Dutch and her top horse (on paper) German and that is not allowed. Because of this, they can’t shine together in Tokyo.
Van Liere must have been looking for a hidden camera when she heard this. A really bad joke, shouldn’t it be? A friendly smile and back to the Games. But it wasn’t a joke, it’s a nightmare that befell Dinja van Liere at the most important moment in her career.
We have known her for years in Zeeland sport. In 2012, she already won bronze at the World Championships for Young Horses in Germany and in the years that followed she achieved both regional and national success. Now that she has a top horse with Hermès, it was time for the next step: the highest global podium. Nothing stood in the way of that, she thought. And everyone thought. But that was without counting that probably well-meaning intern and especially that much too stiff equestrian association.
Van Liere comes from a family of fighters. Her brother Joeri was a good motocross rider, but had a bad crash at the Supercross in Goes in 2014 and suffered a spinal cord injury. Now, more than seven years later, he can walk again with the help of a walking brace and he has thrown himself into wheelchair basketball. With great success, because as a member of the Dutch team he has a chance to play at the Paralympics one day.
Sister Dinja is still going to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year. She can go with her other horse, Haute Couture, as a reserve. “It is actually very nice that I can go to Tokyo, but at the moment it is difficult,” she says about it after her case was rejected by the sports tribunal CAS on Monday.
But of course it’s not “very nice” at all. It’s a major scandal. And that’s why I’m surprised that we haven’t heard chef de mission Pieter van den Hoogenband say a word about this yet. Nothing.
“No one is going to run or swim faster than the chef de mission,” he said in an interview with the AD earlier this week. That’s right, Pieter, but a chef de mission with such great prestige and track record can open doors that remain closed to others. So pull out all the stops to get Dinja to Tokyo with Hermès after all. It can just result in another medal for the Dutch team, so it is also in your own interest. But even more important: make sure that Dinja is not deprived of the moment of her life.