Twenty-three-year-old Carola Diener (GER) became the new world champion at the 15th FEI World Pair Driving Championships at Conty, France. She performed a superb dressage test, drove a wonderful marathon and was near-perfect in the obstacle driving competition The silver medal went to home representative Stéphane Chouzenoux; Tom Engbers from The Netherlands won individual bronze.
The Dutch team, led by Harry de Ruyter, who was appointed chef d’équipe in February, took home the gold while Germany claimed the silver. The host nation was delighted to win the bronze.
Germany was represented with two lady drivers for the first time in history: German pair champion Carola Diener as a team member and 15-year-old Anna Sandmann as an individual competitor. Carola set the basis for her first world medal in the dressage test, which she won ahead of the experienced drivers Beat Schenk (SUI) and Georg Moser (AUT). Diener, who is the stable manager of German international four-in-hand driver Christoph Sandmann, came 12th in the marathon but kept her lead in the individual standings. The marathon was won by 24-year-old Tom Engbers, ahead of Tibor Nagy jr. (HUN), aged only 21. Diener was last to go in the very difficult obstacle driving competition, designed by Barry Hunter (GBR). Going into the last phase, Carola had one ball in hand as well as some time penalties but the professional horsewoman that she is kept her cool leaving all the balls on the cones and recording only 1,94 penalty points for exceeding the time allowed. “It is an incredible feeling to be the new world champion, but it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” she said.
Stéphane Chouzenoux, member of the local driving club, won the individual gold medal exactly nine years ago at the FEI World Single Driving Championships on the very same site of the Ateliers du Val de Selle in Conty. Chouzenoux moved on to four-in-hand driving and successfully represented France at several world championships. The 40-year old manager of a construction company did not want to miss out the opportunity to compete in another world championship in Conty and resumed driving pairs at the start of this season. Chouzenoux was the best French driver throughout the competition. He placed seventh in dressage and sixth in the marathon moving up to bronze medal position at the end of the second phase. Thanks to his double clear in the cones competition, only the second of the day, he clinched individual silver and contributed to the French team bronze. “I never expected to win silver at this world championship,” he pointed out. “When I came out of the arena after my double clear round I started to think it was possible. I thank Tom Engbers for knocking one ball down which took me to silver.”
Tom Engbers (NED) started off in 15th place after dressage and left his fellow competitors far behind in the challenging marathon in which he set the fastest times in five of the eight obstacles. This put him in a good position for individual silver but one knock down in the final phase took him down to bronze. “I was very angry with myself when I knocked that ball down,” Engbers said, “but then I realized this was only my first world championship. I am very pleased with my individual bronze medal and with my contribution to the team gold.”
1. Carola Diener (GER) 125,78
2. Stephane Chouzenoux (FRA) 129,06
3. Tom Engbers (NED) 130,97
1. The Netherlands 261,6
2. Germany 264,9
3. France 271,4