February 18, 2009 — Dressage Olympian Lis Hartel of Denmark died February 12, 2009. She was 87.
Hartel was among the first women to compete in Olympic dressage in 1952. Despite being paralyzed below the knees from polio, she took the individual silver riding Jubilee at the Helsinki Olympics. Four years later, she repeated the individual silver medal at the 1956 Games held in Stockholm.
According to the book Olympic Equestrian by Jennifer O. Bryant, “Hartel’s silver-medal-winning ride and medal ceremony … were among the most moving and memorable moments in Olympic history. Still unable to use her legs, she had to be lowered into the saddle. The audience watched spellbound as she and Jubilee gave a performance worthy of any able-bodied rider. There was likely not a dry eye in the stands when the individual gold medalist, Henri Saint Cyr of Sweden, helped Hartel onto the medal podium.”