“It’s an amazing day! You could say there’s only one person who could be happier than me today and that’s the winner. I would bet that I’m happier!”
That was Andres Rodriguez in the press conference after winning the Individual Silver Medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada last year. The medal was the first milestone on his mission to represent Venezuela at the Olympics. Tragically, that dream will never be realized.
The 31-year-old life’s came to an abrupt end in the wee morning hours of January 4th, 2016. A fatal car crash inside the gates of the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in Wellington, FL claimed his life and that of Sophie Walker, wife of fellow show jumper, Brian Walker. Details of the event are still unfolding, but none will change the story’s ending. Nor blunt the heart wrenching loss of talented athlete, newlywed husband, and infectiously energetic young man.
Because there aren’t words to make sense of a life lost too soon. There aren’t magical phrases that’ll lift the weight of despair or to give relief to the unbearable crush of tragedy. There is only remembering. Fondly embracing what was in hopes that one day, when the sting of death dulls, it’ll be the first bittersweet thought that floats into your mind when you’re caught unawares by their memory.
Here are a few memories we’ll cherish of Andres Rodriguez.
Winning a medal at a championship is always cause for celebration. But for Rodriguez is was game changer—a leaping off point to a bigger and brighter future. No one knew it better than he did.
The only thing more charming than Rodriguez on the Pan Am podium? His fiancé. Mischievous, effervescent, unabashedly in love, Clementine Goutal is the definition of delightful—especially when she’s spilling the beans on her then-fiancé.
Bassem Hassan Mohammed, Daniel Bluman, Steve Guerdat at a World Cup Final, there are only a handful of show jumpers you can count on to put on an enthusiastic display of joy upon winning a major class. Rodriguez is among that elite crew. His piece de resistance: the Dublin puissance last year when he tore off his coat to expose an IRFU Rugby jersey underneath to the delight of the Irish crowd.
Rest in peace, Andres. The world shines less bright without you in it.