Dover, Robert : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Dover, Robert


Country Represented:
United States

Years Competed:
1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004

Medals Received:

Olympic Info:
A legend in the sport of dressage (four riders), Dover has competed in six consecutive Olympiads for the United States' equestrian team, the most ever for an American dressage rider, and won four bronze medals in a row. 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).

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.

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."

Having swept the U.S Olympic dressage tryouts with an average of 78.478, Dover was set to compete in his sixth Olympic games at the 2004 Athens Games. The U.S dressage team won the bronze medal with Robert putting on the best performance with 71.625 percent on his faithful stead, Kennedy. The U.S opened abysmally but regained their composure halfway through to win third place. Many on the American team were disappointed with another bronze but Dover took a philosophical view: "Team dressage is like watching a play. The play has momentum from the beginning. It's not so easy to pull yourself up from that position. We were hoping for more points to start with." The dressage legend finished sixth in the individual dressage event, achieving a 72.833 percentage. Robert came out of the competition with fierce admiration for Kennedy: "Every day I've learned how much trust I can have in him."

Career Highlights:
Dover 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), Rover 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 Aaschen 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. In 1994, Dover was named "Male Equestrian of the Year" by the U.S. Olympic Committee. 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." He is currently managing a 30-horse stable in New Jersey.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 7, 1956

Chicago, Illinois

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Jewish Sports Review November/December 2000 issue (Volume 2, Number 9, Issue 22)
New York Times, August 3, 1992