French Equestrian Federation and Senior Team Trainer Jean Bemelmans Part Ways

Fri, 02/04/2022 - 17:00
Jean Bemelmans at the 2017 CDIO Aachen :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Two year before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the French Equestrian Federation (FFE) has decided not to renew its contract with team trainer Jean Bemelmans.

The Belgian born and Krefeld (GER) based trainer has been French Senior and Under 25 team trainer since 2013. He also fulfilled the role as team selector. Bemelmans came into the position after having worked 16 years as Spanish team trainer, leading that team to unprecedented heights.

Highs and Lows

Bemelmans' path as French team trainer has been one with highs and lows, not shunning controversy in his team selections. 

At the 2013 European Championships the French team was 8th and at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Caen on home turf, they were 11th.

For the 2015 European Championships in Aachen he picked a team of young talent, that showed team spirit and a bigger commitment to animal welfare. His calculated risk paid off as the team ranked sixth and clinched a team spot at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where the team was 8th after the Grand Prix, but only six countries moved onto for the team competition including the Special.

At the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg, the French team had dropped to an 11th place.

Tthe French Federation dropped a bomb in 2018 when they announced not to be sending a team at all to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon (USA). The FFE felt that the riders available at the time would not be able to score high enough to secure 2020 Tokyo Olympic team selection and did not want to invest in sending the riders transatlantic. Instead it would focus on obtaining a team slot at the 2019 European Championships. 

At the 2019 Europeans in Rotterdam, the French team finished 10th despite French duo Charlotte Chalvignac/Lights of Londonderry eliminated from the Grand Prix as the horse was unlevel. They had failed in their mission to secure that Olympic team slot with Portugal and Ireland celebration as they got the last two slots.

However at the end of 2019 Brazil and South Africa failed to achieve the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) for qualified teams and two slots opened up for composite teams. These places were taken by France and Austria. At the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, France placed 9th after the Grand Prix and did not make it into the final 8 for the team competition. At the 2021 European Championships in Hagen, the team was 9th.

Jean Morel, New Senior Team Selector

The French Equestrian Federation announced today that Bemelmans' contract has not been renewed for 2022.

Dressprod broke the news before the FFE officially posted its directives for the "sportive season 2022" in which the news of Bemelmans' departure is divulged. 

Emmanelle Schramm and Muriel Leonardi
Emmanuelle Schramm will remain the Technical Director for Dressage and former French team rider Jean Morel has been appointed senior team selector and chef d'equipe. 

Morel was squad listed for the 1984 Olympic Games on Hopal Fleury, competed at the 1991 European Championships in Donaueschingen on Oscar d'Ruyer and was former national pony team trainer in the 2000s. He currently runs the media company PSV Morel and is director of the Grand National. 

"The ambition for medals at Paris 2024 is the absolute priority of the French Equestrian Federation (FFE)," the official press release stated. "

Lostria and Bastady Join Youth Department

In the youth department, Muriel Leonardi will remain the chef d'equipe and team selector, but she will be joined by assistants Sara Magnusson-Lostria and Rachel Bastady. 

Photos © Astrid Appels

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