Since my passion in jumping sport I know Bert Romp.
First as a fan when I saw him on Renville concurring fences much higher than the small hot stallion himself. Later on i interviewed him many times as a journalist in his role as rider and afterwards chef d’equipe of the Dutch squad. He became a true horse friend who always was available for advice.
That Bert after his retirement from showgrounds still had his skills, he showed not only when we tried horses to buy. Old soldiers never die we said, when he again showed himself that good horse riding looks so easy. When there was a special show “The Legends” at Indoor Brabant last year, we were not surprised that Bert showed he was a true legend by winning this class between the best legends of the world on a simple way.
Bert was a humble man from the North of Holland (Veendam) as we say. Straight forward not many words but loyal and building brick by brick by working hard. Actually he started as a talented football player but preferred to ride pony’s. His parents however had nothing with horses. “When my father asked me where to put the pony, i suggested that there was space enough in the garage where was an old oil pit to fix cars. I thought the pony could climb the stairs up and down,’ Bert told in an interview looking back at the start of his career.
His talent was in the North discovered by horseman Derk Barlagen. After his education at the National equestrian school in Deurne, at 20 years Bert started in the 70’ competing for the stable of the famous Henk Nooren, who polished him to one of the best riders in the world.
“Hard worker and very dutyful,’ is Henk Nooren looking back at this period.
That he got the best out of horses he showed especially with the grey gelding Waldo, a hard working but normal talented horse from my area against which i competed myself many times in national classes. When two silent hard workers with a good attitude meet each other miracles happen. In a few years Bert and Waldo surprisingly became part of the Dutch team at the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992. Together with Jos Lansink, Piet Raymakers and Jan Tops, Bert won Olympic Gold. However this was the only year the Olympic committee had the rule that only the three best results got an Olympic Medal. As Bert told in the book “Olympische Sporen” Olympic Spurs this was a big disappointment for him. “I felt that they stole it from me. Later on you realise that not many people win gold at olympic games. And than you are not in the books as olympic winner. It felt like being robbed.”
Bert competed at three Olympic Games. When he got to ride horses as Samantha and especially the grey stallion Mr Blue, his true talent was worldwide known. He settled himself in the top ten rankings with wins in Volvo World Cups Paris and Berlin, team silver at European Championships in Mannheim and winning Nations Cup in Aachen. Walking the course he would never express himself about his chances to win. Than the unexpected happened. After a victory the inside passion of this humble introvert legend from the North bursted out, waving his arms up in the sky towards the exploding audience.
After Bert decided to retire as a rider, he became a well known trainer and coach. First as trainer/chef d equipe of the Dutch juniors and young riders, later he guided he Dutch senior team. He accompanied many riders at European Championships and Olympic Games as Derin Demirsoy (Turkey), Ibrahim Bisharat (Jordan), Jose Maria Larocca (Argentina) and in 2017 his own son Ruben Romp at the European Championships in Gothenburg. Bert always was the silent worker at the background, easily adapting himself in this role.
In Tryon Bert was the personal trainer of Ibrahim Bisharat and we watched together the final of the WEG. Sitting next to him felt like an honour since he shared his knowledge about horses and riders. He had an eye for detail and knew exactly what were strength and weaknesses of horses and riders. He was like a man from the North, in the beginning seems not open but once he felt comfortable he had his own way of showing it with a remarkable sense of dry humor.
Bert looked forward to work together with his son Ruben who came back at his home stable in Goirle after competing for a Swiss stable for a year. Also Berts other sons are talented riders, but the oldest son Remon chose for a job as offshore project engineer. The youngest Jesper competed years with success for he BWG stables of the Schröder brothers and his now combining his talent as a rider with working for he worldwide well known footing specialist Agterberg
Suomi. When the Finnish federation asked me tot help them think about a trainer/coach, for me it was a natural step to recommend Bert Romp. As a humble guy from the North i felt he would be a perfect match with Finnish mentality. I send his CV to Aki Ylanne and Mikko Luhtala and was very happy that also Mikko Forstén gave Bert a chance for he job.
Bert travelled the last period regularly to Finland to support national riders and give clinics. Although humble, he did not hesitate to give his opinion. Bert understood that there is a lot of work to do in Finland training youngsters and sharing his knowledge. However he suffered from the fact that sometimes he didn’t understand who was responsible for which task in Finnish federation. Transparency was for him a absolute condition to be successful. He himself was a great example that with hard work building brick by brick you are able to gain success. We agreed on the fact that if a country/owners doesn’t provide riders with the best ready horses because they are too expensive, the riders need to demonstrate themselves by working hard and produce themselves the young talented horses up tot he highest level. Bert’s idea was in one way top down to use examples in Finland who made it by working hard and producing own horses tot the top and support them. In an other way stimulate young talents in Finland and help them find the way to get to a higher level with his riding and producing concept.
One day Bert calls me to discuss about his trip to Helsinki International Horse Show, the other day the tragical accident, a hit from a horse while loading on a truck. Next day the horse world was in shock when Bert gave his last breath. Horses are our way of live but unfortunately sometimes our death.
Bert was a proud father of three sons; Remon, Ruben and Jesper. On 4 th of november they would have planned celebtaring his 60 th birthday. Bert lived together with Alejandra, but sons’ mother Geralda worked still in harmony at his barn in Goirle in the South of Holland. Bert also leaves behind a lot of mourning friends and students.
Knowing them I’m convinced they will honour his legacy. Be humble work hard and get the best out of your passion.
Bert, you were and are an example as a rider, trainer but above all human being.
Thanks and hope to meet you again, don’t know where don’t know when…