A legend in the sport of dressage (four riders), Robert Dover has competed in six consecutive Olympiads for the United States' equestrian team, the most ever for an American dressage rider.
Robert Dover was born in Chicago on June 7, 1956. He began riding when he was 13-years old, and specialized in dressage when he was 19. A graduate of the University of Georgia (he did not participate in collegiate athletics while in Athens), Dover saw his equestrian career take off in the 1980s. After his first Olympic appearance in 1984, Dover helped the U.S. capture the North American championship the following year. In 1987, Dover defeated six-time Olympic gold medalist Dr. Reiner Klimke to win the Aachen Grand Prix in Germany before a crowd of 65,000.
This victory was the first time an American had won at Aaschen since 1960, and Dover considers it the high point of his distinguished career. He said the biggest thrill came during the awards ceremony when the U.S. flag was raised and the band played The Star-Spangled Banner.
He made his international debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, finishing in 17th place in the individual event (on Romantico) while the U.S. placed sixth in the team competition.
Dover returned to the Olympics in 1988 at the Seoul Games, where he had his best result in the individual dressage event, finishing in 13th place. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Dover won his first medal, helping to lead the U.S. to a bronze medal in the team competition. He finished 22nd in the individual dressage event (on his horse, Lectron).
In 1994, Dover was named "Male Equestrian of the Year" by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Dover won his second Olympic medal and the U.S. finished in third place to win the bronze medal for the second straight Olympiad. Dover also competed in the individual dressage event and finished 23rd overall.
In 1998, Robert finished in fourth place in the team dressage event at the World Equestrian Games.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dover began suffering from a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder and a pinched sciatic nerve on his right side, both of which caused him tremendous pain. While he used to ride many different horses all day, he now felt major back pain after riding only two horses, and said, "My body is so shot. Getting up just to walk around is hard for me."
At the 2000 Sydney Games, Dover captained the U.S. equestrian team and helped lead the Americans to another bronze medal (his third consecutive bronze), finishing behind Germany and the Netherlands. Dover also competed in the individual dressage, and finished in 23rd place. He said of being elected captain: "It is truly an honor for me to represent my teammates on the dressage, eventing and jumping squads as Olympic team captain...the USET riders here are all conducting ourselves as teammates should and I am truly proud to serve as our captain."
Dover clinched his sixth Games berth at the 2004 Olympic Dressage Trials when he won all four tests. In Athens, the veteran rode FBW Kennedy, a Baden Wurttemberg gelding owned by Jane F. Clark. He won a bronze medal, his fourth medal in six Olympics, in team dressage.
Dover manages a 30-horse stable in New Jersey.
Source: Jews In Sports; NBC