By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Two German-born Palestinians are currently in Rio to represent Palestine at the Olympics: long-distance runner, Mayada Al-Sayad, and dressage rider, Christian Zimmermann.
Zimmerman, a German-Palestinian with dual citizenship, will be the first-ever Palestinian to compete in the Olympics dressage competition, in the equestrian events.
Born Christian Bruhe, Zimmerman, a resident of Cologne, qualified for Rio by topping the Africa and Middle East individual Olympic ranking. He is a descendant of composer Robert Schumann and competed in dressage until the age of 26, when he left the sport to go into business, becoming CEO of the communications agency, Uniplan.
After a break of 18 years from the sport, he began competing again at the age of 44, initially for Germany. He obtained dual citizenship with Palestine and Germany in 2011, switching his national allegiance from Germany to Palestine in 2013. He thus became one of only six Palestinian equestrians registered with the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.
In 2014, Zimmermann became the first Palestinian rider to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, finishing 68th in the individual dressage competition. He has also participated in the Equestrian Grand Prix.
Zimmerman’s representation of Palestine in Rio is extremely relevant in allowing the Palestinian voice to be heard even at a sporting level.
#Olympics German born dressage rider Christian Zimmerman qualifies fir Rio – riding for Palestine. Descendant of composer Robert Schumann
— Hilary Evans (@OlympicStatman) March 7, 2016
Palestine’s participation in the Olympics is both symbolic and political, said Al-Sayed Dawoud Metwali, a member of the Palestinian Olympic Committee saying, “It enables us to raise the Palestinian flag at such an international sports event.”
He added that Palestinians “want to prove that we are an independent entity and that we are represented in the international scene even if on a small scale.”