Category Archives: Olympic Games

Comeback King Skelton Scoops Britain’s First Olympic Individual Jumping Gold

Nick Skelton. (Dirk Caremans/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 19 August 2016 – He broke his neck in a fall 16 years ago, he has a replacement hip, he’s 58 years old, competing at his seventh Olympic Games, and he was riding a horse that has been struggling with injury for over two years, but Nick Skelton made Olympic history when becoming the first ever British rider to win individual Jumping gold at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro.

In a thrilling finale to an extraordinary two weeks of equestrian sport, the man who helped claim his country’s first Olympic team Jumping medals – and golden ones at that – for 60 years in London (GBR) four years ago, simply galloped the rest into the ground when pace-setter in a third-round jump-off against the clock with Big Star.

Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and the brilliant All In claimed silver when producing the only other fault-free performance in the closing stages, while Canada’s Eric Lamaze took the bronze when posting the fastest time but leaving a fence on the floor with Fine Lady.

Emotion

Skelton is not a man known for displays of emotion, but he couldn’t hold back the tears when he climbed onto the podium to receive the ultimate sporting accolade. And the response of his fellow-riders showed just how respected he is, 2008 Olympic champion Lamaze grinning as though he was taking the gold himself as he congratulated the British rider with an enormous hug.

“I’ve been in this sport a long, long time and to win this at my age makes me so happy, I always wanted to do it and nearly did it in London,” Skelton said, referring to his fifth-place finish in 2012.

He wasn’t the only tearful athlete – world and European double-champion Jeroen Dubbeldam from The Netherlands was distraught after picking up a time fault in the second round when clearing the line 0.02 seconds over the time with Zenith.

Reflecting the extraordinary quality of the horse-and-rider combinations at these Games, a total of 13 went clear over the Brazilian course designer Guilherme Jorge’s first-round track and six managed to keep a clean sheet second time out.

And the passionate fans roared their approval from the stands, joined by plenty of VIPs who flocked to see equestrian sport at its very best, including the Dutch royal family, the King and Queen of Sweden, members of the Qatari royal household, former IOC President Jacques Rogge, IOC members Gerardo Werthein and Denis Oswald, and IOC Director General Christophe de Kepper.

First to go in jump-off for the medals, the equestrian equivalent of a penalty shoot-out, Skelton decided “to go as fast as I could but be safe and not take risks; he’s a quick horse anyway. I wanted to put pressure on everyone else and I had luck on my side,” he explained afterwards. As it happened, his target time of 42.82 seconds would prove unbeatable.

Final course

This final course began with a wall topped by a pole, and Steve Guerdat’s dream of a back-to-back Olympic double with his gelding Nino des Buissonnets was shattered when this toppled. He raced on to break the beam in 43.08 seconds, and when Qatar’s Sheikh Ali Al Thani (First Division) and America’s Kent Farrington (Voyeur) both faulted twice it seemed a medal might still be within the Swiss star’s grasp. But then Sweden’s Peder Fredricson steered All In home and clear in 43.35 seconds to up the stakes and definitely slot into a medal position with just one left to go.

Canada’s Eric Lamaze is one of the most feared opponents in the sport, and with his mare Fine Lady in spectacular form from the outset last Sunday, he was leading the individual standings until all 35 qualified riders reverted to zero status. Setting off at a blistering pace he was clearly in the lead coming to the second-last, but a tiny slip as he made a tight turn to angle this vertical left his mare off-balance and she clipped the top rail to gallop on home in 42.09 seconds with four faults on her scoresheet.

“My biggest nerves of the Games was waiting for the others to go in the jump-off,” Skelton admitted. “I didn’t look too hard; I walked around and took an odd look but I had to watch Eric and he made me sweat for a minute!”

Adversity

He can hardly believe that the horse that carried him to that glorious team victory on home turf four years ago has managed to overcome adversity and injury to do it all again for the individual title.

“Today was amazing,” Skelton said. “Big Star has been a bit rusty. The last time he won was in Aachen (GER) in 2013 and it’s taken two years to get him back on track again. A lot of people put a lot of time into bringing him back. He’s always been amazing; he wants to do it all and he has all the right attributes – he’s the best horse I’ve ever had and the best I’m ever likely to have. I’m so pleased for him. On his way back we nursed him and nursed him and today he came good for me.”

Skelton is a pretty tough cookie himself. The courage and tenacity he showed in his own recovery after breaking his neck in a fall in 2000, retiring in 2001 and then changing his mind the following year, and the pain he battles with on an ongoing basis might be enough to put a stop to most competitive careers. He needed a set of steps to climb back into the saddle after the medal ceremony. “I’ve got chronic back pain so getting legged up is painful and I have a metal hip on my left side so I only get on like this.” But the tearful smile said it all.

Lamaze put it into perspective. “The Olympics is the most difficult challenge in our sport; we try our hardest to do our best. Anybody in that jump-off deserved a medal. Most of us go to shows every week and you can win a big Grand Prix, but an Olympic medal – well that stays with you forever!”

Result here

Quotes:

Nick Skelton GBR, gold: “It’s pretty emotional for all my team. My groom Mark has been in my team for 30 years; he works with this horse nine hours a day. My two boys (his sons) are at homel they’re both very busy but I spoke with them on the phone and they’re really happy. I have to thank Laura (his partner, American rider Laura Kraut) too; she’s been a great help.”

Eric Lamaze CAN, silver: “So many things have to go right; a lot of great riders and horses here had misfortune this week; you need good luck and your horse to stay healthy. I always thought Nick would be on the podium, or just off it anyway.”

Nick Skelton GBR, gold: “I was surprised there were so many clears in the first round. 13 is a lot and six in the jump-off is a lot – you’ve got to feel for the riders that finished fourth, fifth and sixth.”

Peder Fredricson SWE, silver: “I knew I was sitting on a very good horse coming to the Games – maybe I wasn’t expecting a medal but I was hoping for it! I saw Nick (in the jump-off) and I tried to ride faster but I couldn’t – there were so many riders going for gold in the jump-off!

“I bought this horse as a seven-year-old; Nicola Phiippaerts was riding it. I went to buy him, and after the first jump I knew he was the horse I was looking for. I have him three years now.”

Nick Skelton GBR, gold: “I’m not going to stop riding now; the only horse I ride is Big Star and when he stops I’ll stop.”

Equestrian in the Olympics

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Uniquely across the Olympic Movement, men and women compete against each other for all the medals in equestrian sport.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

Rio 2016:

Anja Krabbe
Venue Media Manager
anja.krabbe@rio2016.com
+55 (21) 97556 1218

FEI:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

The Most Recognisable Running Shoes in the Olympics Aren’t on Usain Bolt’s Feet!

Horse shoe being quenched in a bucket of water to cool it down before being fitted on the horse. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 18 August 2016 – The most recognisable brand of running shoes, and definitely the fastest running shoes in the Olympic movement are not on the track and field athletes in Rio 2016. They’re the shoes on the only four-legged athletes at the Games – the horses!

Whether it’s heels up in Europe to keep the good luck in, or heels down in Asia to stop the bad luck dropping in, the horseshoe is a universal sign of good luck. And the hardest working shoe fitters in Rio are the team of British and Brazilian farriers working round the clock to keep the well-heeled equine athletes well-shod at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro.

Just like their human counterparts, the equine athletes have the choice of hand-made shoes and off-the-shelf versions, but the Olympic horses here in Rio have bespoke shoes to help them perform at the very highest level.

These are shoes with a variety of styles: flat shoes, tapered shoes, heart-bar shoes that encase the entire foot, and shoes with studs for grip. And some even come with gel pads for cushioned comfort.

There’s no tying laces for these athletes. Their shoes, which are made of either iron or aluminium, are nailed on.

To achieve the ultimate equine fit, the shoe is heated to a red-hot 800 degrees before being forged on the anvil to the correct shape. When the temperature of the shoe has dropped, it’s pressed onto the foot and, once the fit is optimal, the shoe is quenched in a bucket of water to cool it down. Then it’s nailed onto the insensitive hoof, the equivalent of a 10mm thick toenail. A pedicure and shoe-fitting in one package!

There’s also a glue-on aluminium option, using a special glue that sets in two minutes. This requires fast, accurate work and is a really specialised job. One of the horses that was re-shod by the Olympic farriery team using this method went on to win gold!

And then there are apparently decorative effects that actually play an important role, like copper-coated anti-microbial nails which tackle the equine equivalent of athlete’s foot.

Just like track and field athletes or footballers, when grip is crucial, studded shoes are the only answer. And for horses, there’s a huge variety of different lengths and shapes of studs for different ground conditions. According to the Rio 2016 Lead Farrier Jim Blurton, “Stud selection is nearly as important as tyre selection for Formula 1.”

Jim Blurton, Rio 2016 Olympic Games Lead Farrier (image: FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)
Jim Blurton, Rio 2016 Olympic Games Lead Farrier (image: FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Former world champion Blurton (57), a third-generation farrier from Wales (GBR), heads up a five-man British team that also includes Jim’s right-hand man Ben Benson (36), himself a second-generation farrier, who will take over as lead farrier for next month’s Paralympics. Both of them worked at the London 2012 Games, along with forge general manager Emma Cornish (41). The British side of the team is completed by Ed Dailly (26) and Craig D’Arcy (48) and Dean Bland (45).

And overseeing them all is Luiz Tenorio (44), the man in charge of Farrier Services Coordination for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Tenorio, who designed and equipped the Rio 2016 forge, is a first-generation farrier born and bred in Rio de Janeiro. He’s responsible for making sure that wherever there’s a horse, there’s a farrier ready to step in if a shoe needs to be replaced, even moments before they’re due onto the field of play.

“The major players come with their own farriers,” Blurton says. “All the Olympic horses come with a spare set of pre-fitted shoes so that if they lose one the team can produce a shoe that already fits. In London 2012 we had a horse that lost a shoe in the warm-up 10 minutes before it was due to jump. We had the shoe back on in seven minutes; that’s the equivalent of a 3.5 second pitstop!”

Tenorio has also hand-selected the Brazilian team that includes 13 volunteer farriers. As part of the Games’ legacy programme, each day’s schedule includes lectures and one-on-one training sessions, allowing the less-experienced Brazilian farriers to add to their knowledge bank, particularly about remedial shoeing.

This is a major legacy for Brazil, but there’s also a global legacy, as the national team farriers and the Rio 2016 team meet up in the forge on an almost daily basis to discuss changes within the industry. As the sport evolves, horse-breeding is also evolving to produce more athletic horses, which in turn puts more demands on their shoes and on the farriers, so this meeting of minds involves knowledge-exchange at the highest level.

Farriery is an incredibly physical job dealing with an animal weighing between 500 and 600 kilograms and with a mind of its own. So what about gender equality in an industry servicing a sport which, uniquely in the Olympic movement, sees male and female athletes competing for the same medals? There are females working as farriers, although not as many as their male counterparts, and what they may lack in physical strength they make up for in agility and ability to get on with temperamental horses.

And what about injuries? “I’ve had three broken legs and I’ve broken my back, but none of those were from shoeing horses,” Jim Blurton says. “Broken toes are part of the job, and you get backache from the very first day you start shoeing horses. You’re constantly bent over, but you adapt and you get extremely strong back and arm muscles! But there’s incredible job satisfaction. I see farriers as legal equine performance enhancers.”

Equestrian in the Olympics

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Uniquely across the Olympic Movement, men and women compete against each other for all the medals in equestrian sport.

Media Contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Lamaze and His Very Fine Lady

Canada’s Eric Lamaze. (Dirk Caremans/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 18 August 2016 – On the eve of the Olympic individual Jumping Final at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (BRA), the riders are thinking ahead to Friday’s big challenge. A total of 35 combinations will tackle the track when the action gets underway at 10.00 local time, and if form is anything to go by then one to watch will definitely be 2008 Olympic individual champion, Canada’s Eric Lamaze, who will have the best of the draw when last to go in the first round.

Riding the 13-year-old mare Fine Lady he has completed the first three individual qualifiers without knocking a pole while posting super-fast times.

His single-point advantage over America’s Kent Farrington (Voyeur), Sweden’s Peder Fredricson (All In), and Maikel van ver Vleuten (Verdi) counts for nothing when the action resumes, however, because everyone starts Friday’s competition on a zero score. That isn’t preventing the 2008 individual Olympic champion from feeling pretty positive though.

Feel good

“You can’t help but feel good about it so far, and it’s great to be leading going into the competition even though it doesn’t mean anything to be in that position. What it is is a testament to how good your horse is jumping,” says the 48-year-old Canadian rider. “Of course there’s always the unknown; this sport can bring very bad news very quickly and the last day is going to be a Grand Prix course. But look at Hong Kong (Beijing 2008 Olympic Games) – the ones in the lead stayed in the lead at the end.”

He’s very aware that a number of other horses are excelling themselves this week but is supremely confident in his mare. “She’s a very predictable horse; she’s not affected by the heat and when you go in the ring she sparks,” he points out. And he didn’t have to compete in Wednesday’s thrilling jump-off for team bronze in which Team USA pipped Canada. “We really wanted to win that bronze yesterday but it was good for me not to go in the jump-off. I would have been happy to do it, but in the end it wasn’t necessary,” he explains.

Many of his career highlights came through his remarkable partnership with the great stallion Hickstead, who carried him to team silver and individual glory in Beijing, but tragically died three years later.  “He was one of a kind,” Lamaze says with pride. “With him I went to Beijing as favourite and he stayed favourite – you couldn’t help but feel good going into the final there. But it’s a different scenario here; there are already 12 other clears going into the last day.”

Same horse

He says Fine Lady is “pretty simple – she knows her routine, and when you go in the ring you get the same horse every time.” And his confidence is boosted by the fact that the mare is in the right frame of mind. “I find that most times when you arrive at a show and the horse is ‘on,’ then the horse is ‘on’ – when the horse is having a good week, it stays that way,” he says.

And the courses designed by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge hold no horrors for him. “I’m used to his courses; he’s a very clever course builder, very technical but horse-friendly,” Lamaze says. He talks about the penultimate double in the first track last Sunday which caused plenty of problems, and says he expects the open water to continue to be influential Friday. “I like it when the water is an independent jump and the riders have to find it. On the first day you could find it yourself, but on the second day it was on a bending seven-stride line and it was hard to get the distance forward enough.”

Surprised

He’s really surprised with how Fine Lady has developed into such a top-quality competition ride. “We never bought her to go to the Olympics; she just grew into her scope, but she was originally a 1.50m speed horse. It was only after she jumped great at Geneva (SUI) last year that I thought I would experiment, and I can hardly believe how much she has improved. She’s as good a horse as I’ve ridden since Hickstead, and she’s as competitive as he was. She’s 13 years old but she feels just amazing, and who knows what’s left for her to win. I slowly brought her to where she is now and she has surprised me every time,” he says.

When asked what he thinks of his chances of a medal, he replies, “We all dream of medals, but so many things need to go right – although look at the French yesterday and how that worked out!” referring to the French team victory despite a terrible run of bad luck for them earlier in the week. “Regardless of the outcome I will be giving my best and for sure she will give her best too. It would mean the world to win another medal, but it won’t break me if I don’t,” Lamaze says.

And then he talks about what makes an “Olympic” horse. “They need to have a lot blood, they need agility, and they have to be versatile. They should never look down at the bottom of a fence; they need to carry their eyes level; they need to look and to measure and to know exactly where they are and where they’re going.

“Hickstead had eyes in his legs, and Fine Lady is very much the same. She’s all about rhythm and speed.”

Equestrian in the Olympics

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Uniquely across the Olympic Movement, men and women compete against each other for all the medals in equestrian sport.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

Rio 2016:

Anja Krabbe
Venue Media Manager
anja.krabbe@rio2016.com
+55 (21) 97556 1218

FEI:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

End of an Era as Olympic Champion Beerbaum Announces Retirement from German Team

Ludger Beerbaum. (Richard Juillart/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 18 August 2016 – “A legend in his own lifetime, a complete horseman and a man who is deeply involved in the development of the sport.” That was the description of Olympian Ludger Beerbaum given by FEI Jumping Director, John Roche, after the announcement of the German rider’s retirement from his national team.

Beerbaum, who turns 53 later this month, has long been the rock on which his country has depended at championships for almost 30 years.

He took his first Olympic team gold medal in Seoul (KOR) riding a horse called The Freak in 1988, and two more at Atlanta (USA) in 1996 with the great mare Ratina Z and with Goldfever at Sydney (AUS) in 2000. The individual gold he clinched with Classic Touch at Barcelona (ESP) in 1992 was particularly memorable, achieved after a scary moment in the earlier stages of the event when he had to perform a mid-competition flying dismount from his horse.

At his seventh Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (BRA), he added team bronze to his collection. Add in two gold, one silver and one bronze at world championships and six gold, three silver and two bronze from European championships, and the enormity of the achievement of this German flag-bearer and supreme athlete is evident.

Beerbaum always wanted to quit at the top, and he will make his final appearance in his red Team Germany jacket at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona (ESP) next month. Emotions are likely to run high as he returns for the very last time to the scene of that glorious Olympic achievement at the very same venue, the Real Club de Polo, 24 years ago.

“It was a tough decision,” he said. But he’s not leaving the sport completely. “I’m working on a number of projects and I will focus on my stable at home, and on training and selling young horses.” In fact his enormous influence will continue to be felt in many ways, because his equestrian centre, Riesenback International which opened just last year, will host national tournaments, clinics and international seminars. It seems he will, in fact, remain right at the heart of the sport.

In addition to his work in Europe, as President of the Longines World Equestrian Academy. Beerbaum will also be a huge support to the development of the showjumping market across Asia.

“It’s great to know we will continue to have the benefit of Ludger’s tremendous experience in years to come,” John Roche added. “He will remain a highly influential figure.”

“I won’t get bored!” the phenomenally successful German athlete said. “I’m grateful that I was able to represent Germany as a rider. Now this is a job for my younger colleagues.”

Equestrian in the Olympics

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Uniquely across the Olympic Movement, men and women compete against each other for all the medals in equestrian sport.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

Rio 2016:

Anja Krabbe
Venue Media Manager
anja.krabbe@rio2016.com
+55 (21) 97556 1218

FEI:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Live from Rio with Will Connell: Transport Woes, Dressage PBs, and Jumping

Laura Graves and Diddy (Shannon Brinkman Photo).

By: Will Connell

8/16/2016 – Rio 2016 continue to mess up a perfectly functional transport system, U.S. Dressage rider hits another Personal Best, and the Jumping horses have started leaping.  All is good in Rio.

The transport (to be more precise the Drop Off/Pick Up) debacle would be comical if it wasn’t so disruptive to everything that we (and other Nations) have been doing for the last two weeks.  To then be told that it was our fault and that we, the Teams, were disobeying the rules was insulting and insane.  Anyway, it is one of many things that have to be approached with “positive intent”.  “Positive intent” has been the byword and mantra of the USOC leadership and the USOC have certainly led by example.  Well, my positive intent gauge is most certainly starting to show empty.  Please send a refueling tanker.

It was a shame that the stands were not full for the Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle (the Individual Final) as there was some fantastic dressage and great competition.  Another Personal Best for Laura Graves rounded off an outstanding Games for her.  4th is just the worst position to finish in; so close to yet so far from, the podium.  But Laura can look back on the Games with immense pride as can all of the U.S. Dressage Team and their support staff.  U.S. Dressage is back at the Top Table.

I have not made mention of the British for obvious reasons but Charlotte Dujardin was supreme again.  However, I am compelled to make mention of Carl Hester who coached every member of the GBR Dressage Team here in Rio and of course medaled himself – some achievement.  Time for him to go down on one knee at the Palace.

The dressage team head home leaving behind them one casualty.  A belt.  A belt that could not handle the Olympic pressure and gave way as one of the dressage athletes was giving 101% during the Grand Prix to bring home a Medal.  It will be, like my trousers (a.k.a. pants), buried with full State honours.

A little break for some cat herding.  Sedan 1 and Ana Car 1 to restaurant with 4 Dressage grooms + 1 x Vet, 1 x Physio and 1 x Farrier to eat and then head back to venue to load horses:  Van 1 loaded with 9 Jumping crew to same restaurant and back to hotel:  Van 2 picking up three at Gas Station (alternate pick up point recently instigated due to Rio 2016 Transport Madness Disease) to head to aforementioned restaurant:  Van 3 loaded to the rafters with Dressage athlete luggage…  athletes enjoying wine.  Departure of athletes imminent.  Or did I get some athletes mixed up?  And people wonder why I drink.

The jumping competitions are a little drawn out at an Olympics but we are now well in to the meat of the matter.  The first round of the Nations Cup (Team Competition) took place today and we are exactly where we want to be – on 0 penalties going in to the second and final round tomorrow.  Rather annoying that there are three other Nations on 0 but I guess that is good for the crowds, if a little nerve-racking for us.  There were plenty of highs and lows today; there will be some celebrating tonight and some commiserating.  This has not been an easy Games to enjoy, but it most certainly is an Olympic Games.  What is it about the Games that creates such passion and emotion or drive and determination amongst athletes that are competing against each other on many occasions throughout the year?  It is a very special environment and watching the athletes’ drive to win, the euphoria of medaling and the despair of losing is something that still excites and intrigues me:  Unlike dealing with Transport dumbdelardies, which just infuriates me.

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© Copyright 2016 United States Equestrian Federation

US Wins Team Silver in Show Jumping at Rio Olympic Games

Kent Farrington and Voyeur (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team won the Silver medal in a down-to-the-wire competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Wednesday. The team of Lucy Davis and Barron, Kent Farrington and Voyeur, Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’, and McLain Ward and Azur finished the two-round competition with five faults. France won the Gold with three faults, while Germany and Canada tied for third on eight. Ultimately, Germany captured Bronze following a jump-off with Canada for the medal.

A total of 44 athlete-and-horse combinations representing 19 countries, eight of which remained in the hunt for team medals, competed at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center in the final round of the team competition, which also served as the third and final qualifier for Friday’s individual final.

The U.S. started the day with only three riders, as Madden and Cortes ‘C’, a 14-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding owned by Abigail Wexner, withdrew from Wednesday’s competition after sustaining a tendon injury on Tuesday. That added pressure for each of the U.S.’s three remaining riders, as the team would not have the luxury of a drop score as each team’s three best scores counted.

Guilherme Jorge designed a course worthy of an Olympic final; it demanded expert riding, power, and speed. Riders faced a 1.60m wall as an introduction to the 13-jump course that had a time-allowed of 82 seconds. Jorge’s impressive course quickly separated the teams with only 15 riders able to finish within the time and only five going clear.

“The course was tremendous, a real Olympic championship course,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “We knew that when we walked it; all the riders did. We were pretty sure that it wasn’t going to be won on zero [faults]. All our scores had to count today; we knew that. It didn’t affect any of them. They were all unbelievable. Unbelievably focused, they knew what their job was and they got it done. It was tremendous.”

Setting the tone for the U.S. once again was Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) and Amalaya Investments’ 14-year-old KWPN gelding, Voyeur. For the third straight round this week, they dominated the course, clearing each jump with ease. Although the duo succeeded in leaving all the rails in the cups, they exceeded the time allowed, adding one fault to their overall score, their only fault to date in their Olympic debut.

“My horse jumped fantastic today,” said Farrington after his round. “I saw a lot of horses struggling to jump the triple combination clear so I really set him up for that. Every rail was going to matter today, so I wanted to secure that before I took a bigger risk on the time. The course was a lot bigger than the other day and a lot more difficult. We’re going in one round at a time and trying our best to jump clear.”

Lucy Davis and Barron (Shannon Brinkman Photo)
Lucy Davis and Barron (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

The second U.S. rider to enter the ring was Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.) with Old Oaks Farm’s Barron, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. Davis and Barron showed brilliance in the first half of the course, clearing each jump and making good time around the large arena. The triple combination came late on course at fence 11, where Davis and Barron tapped the top rail out of the cups at 11b, resulting in four faults.

“I was pleased with the round, although not thrilled because I would have liked to have gone clear, but he jumped amazing all three days,” said Davis. “I wasn’t really expecting that rail because he was jumping so confident and smooth. I came around the turn and saw my distance, and I don’t know if he saw something or what. I am just happy that we could get through it and stay within the time. That was really key because I thought it was going to be really close, so hopefully I helped the team in that way.”

Just before Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) entered the ring with Double H Farm and Francois Mathy’s Azur, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, Roger Yves Bost clinched the Gold for France. With Germany and Brazil both in a position to keep the U.S. off the podium, Ward knew that he needed a fault-free round to keep the team’s medal hopes alive. The two-time Olympic Team Gold medalist attacked the course in true Olympic fashion – calm, confident, and with speed. Azur was sure not to touch a single rail and the duo came home clean and within the time, putting the U.S. in position for the Silver medal, the third team medal for the U.S. in the past four Olympic Games.

“It takes the wind out of your sail a little bit when you are focused on winning,” said Ward of France securing the Gold prior to his ride. “But you have to gather yourself. We’ve had a rough 24 hours losing Cortes. Beezie has been our anchor for the better part of a decade. Her record of coming through in the clutch is second-to-none. It’s a little unsettling when you lose her, but it was great team performance. I thought Kent was brilliant and Lucy, just like at the World Equestrian Games, was the utmost professional and she really delivered a great round. They allowed me to be in a position where I could do the job I was supposed to do.”

“The horse felt like she was jumping incredibly. I think I am sitting on a bit of a better horse than everybody else, so that makes my life a little easier. I really thought she jumped as good as ever, if not better than the rest of the week. It was a round I’m proud of and I’m proud of this team.”

Summing things up for the U.S. team, Farrington said, “Just to be on this team, to be in my first Olympics and win a medal is a fantastic feeling. There’s no greater honor than representing your country, and to walk away with a Silver medal is a great finish.”

Action concludes Friday with the two-round individual final where the top 45 riders from the three qualifying rounds will start fresh on zero faults. The U.S. will be represented by Farrington, Davis, and Ward.

NBCOlympics.com Live Stream

Keep up-to-date on equestrian competition at the Rio Olympic Games on the USEFNetwork.com. Coverage includes links to live streams and TV coverage, athlete bios, behind-the-scenes photos, and more.

Classic Communications/USEF Communications Department

Fighting French Fly to Victory in Olympic Team Jumping Final

Roger Yves Bost, Penelope Leprevost, Kevin Staut and Philippe Rozier. (Dirk Caremans/FEI)

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 17 August 2016 – France claimed Team Jumping gold for only the second time in the history of the Olympic Games with a brilliant performance at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (BRA). Lying only a single penalty point behind the joint-leaders from Brazil, Germany, Netherlands and USA after Tuesday’s first round of competition, they added just two time faults to clinch it.

Silver went to Team USA who completed with five faults while Germany won out in a thrilling two-way jump-off against Canada for the bronze. This is only the second French team gold in the history of Olympic Jumping, the first won at Montreal (CAN) in 1976 where the side included Jean-Marcel Rozier whose son, Philippe, was French pathfinder. “My father was here in Rio, and we are all feeling very proud to have another gold medal in our family!” Philippe said.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the French who have endured a series of setbacks. “We had bad luck at the beginning of the week with Simon’s horse and then Penelope,” said Kevin Staut, referring to the withdrawal of Simon Delestre’s horse, Ryan, who was injured and then a night in the veterinary clinic for Penelope Leprevost’s mare Flora de Mariposa before the pair took a fall in Sunday’s first qualifier. Flora jumped brilliantly in Tuesday’s first round of the team event, but such was the strength of the French effort that she didn’t have to compete at all as Roger-Yves Bost (Sydney Une Prince) joined Staut (Reveur de Hurtebise) and Rozier (Rahotep de Toscane) to seal it with three great rounds.

Sharing

There were four teams sharing a zero score as the day began, but only Germany fielded a full four-rider side, as the elimination of Jur Vrieling (Zirocco Blue) hit the Dutch hard Tuesday and the disqualification of Stephen de Freitas Barcha (Landpeter do Feroleto) left the Brazilians looking vulnerable. Then it was announced that Beezie Madden’s Cortes C was withdrawn from the US team after picking up an injury.

On a day filled with time faults, Rozier collected just one in an otherwise copybook pathfinding run for France but it was Staut’s clear when next to go that suddenly placed his country in real contention. And when Bost followed that with one of his edge-of-the-seat rides to come home with just one time fault on the board the destination of team gold was already being celebrated by the French fans. Bost insisted he had no idea the pressure he was under when going into the ring as last French rider. “I wasn’t sure what the score was. I just went in to do my job and the medal just came to me!” he said afterwards, and Staut joked in reply, “When Bosty is warming up, nobody is speaking to him!”

The Americans also kicked off with just a time fault from Kent Farrington and Voyeur but Lucy Davis and Barron left the middle of the influential triple combination, three from home, on the floor so although McLain Ward followed through with a spectacular clear from Azur their fate was sealed on a five-fault total which was plenty good enough for silver spot.

The Dutch kicked off with a mistake from Jeroen Dubbeldam at the second fence along with a time fault and although Maikel van der Vleuten and Verdi only fell afoul of the clock, three fences down for Harrie Smolders and Emerald saw them disappear from the reckoning. Brazilian dreams dissipated when Eduardo Menezes (Quintol), Doda de Miranda (Cornetto K) and Pedro Veniss (Quabri de L’Isle) all faulted just once, but in the meantime, there was another drama beginning to unfold.

Pressure

Germany wrapped up their score on eight, thanks to a classic bit of riding from anchorman Ludger Beerbaum who came home inside the time with Casello under the most intense pressure. That meant the five faults collected by Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci) could be dropped leaving just the single errors from Christian Ahlmann (Taloubet Z) and Daniel Deusser (First Class) to be added together. And that eight-fault total left them on level pegging with the Canadians who added just four to their first-day result thanks to brilliant clears from Tiffany Foster (Tripple X) and Eric Lamaze (Fine Lady). Canadian opener, Yann Candele (First Choice), hit only the last and they could discount the 12 picked up by Amy Millar (Heros).

The Canadians were first to go in the two-way showdown for bronze, but it was three German clears, from Ahlmann, Michaels-Beerbaum and Deusser, that clinched it. “We always knew there was a high possibility of a jump-off,” said Michaels-Beerbaum. “We all fought very hard for this medal today and we are very grateful to have it.”

Back in the winner’s enclosure, Kevin Staut reflected on how his team managed to turn it around in a week when nothing seemed to be going their way. “Maybe the problems helped to make us fight more and more,” he said. And how it feels to be crowned Olympic team champion? “Really proud – to be French, to be a rider and to be a gold medallist!”

Result here

Quotes:

Ben Maher (GBR): “I think we (Team Great Britain) have been progressing over the past three rounds, which is not really what you want to do in the Olympic Games. You probably want to set out as you mean to go on. But Tic Tac felt amazing today. We’ve had a tough week for the team with silly mistakes, but I and Nick (Skelton) are out for ourselves now. And we are going to try and redeem ourselves.”

Luciana Diniz (POR): “Honestly, I am really happy because my goal today was to qualify for the final. And I am in. So… look, I have goosebumps.”

Talking about her mare Fit for Fun: “The first thing I do is I say ‘thank you’ to her. And she gets a lot of bananas. She is like a monkey; she loves bananas. So that is my way of rewarding her.”

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum GER, talking about hitting the very last fence on the course: “Nacho (Fibonacci) jumped super. Maybe I felt like it was over already. I was surprised to see it fall. That was a rider’s mistake. I can’t blame the horse.”

Kent Farrington USA: “I’m thrilled to be here on the team at my first Olympic Games and to win a medal. There is no prouder feeling than representing your country and the silver medal is a great achievement.”

Guilherme Jorge BRA, course designer: “The course was difficult yesterday and today we had four teams on zero, so I stepped up the degree of difficulty and played with the time allowed. We had a good result with a number of clears and it shows how high the level of the riders and horses were today. To design an Olympic course in my home country – it doesn’t get better than this!”

Ludger Beerbaum GER, on the pressure of being the last to ride for Germany: “You know, when you go in the ring you cannot have all of these thoughts and questions. There was no tactic – I could not have a fault and I should not have one down. But knowing this is not a guarantee that it will happen. So if you start thinking about ‘What if, when, why’… you mess everything up. You should not think such thoughts. Try to stay focused and do your job. You cannot help it if it does not work.”

On the emotion of the day: “It was the same rollercoaster for the United States and France and Brazil and Canada. So we have not been in a different position. Everybody was hoping to go clear and do their best and be on the podium.”

McLain Ward USA, on losing Beezie Madden from the team: “We did not really have an option. Beezie has been our anchor for the better part of a decade and her record of coming through for us is second to none. But we thought we had a strong team, strong horses. And we thought the course was brilliant today – it was real Olympic calibre team jumping. So we are very proud.”

Equestrian in the Olympics

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912. Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines – Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. Uniquely across the Olympic Movement, men and women compete against each other for all the medals in equestrian sport.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

Rio 2016:

Anja Krabbe
Venue Media Manager
anja.krabbe@rio2016.com
+55 (21) 97556 1218

FEI:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Rivetti and Barcha Disqualified from Combined Jumping Individual 2nd Qualifier

Rio de Janeiro (BRA), 16 August 2016 – Two horse/rider combinations were disqualified from Tuesday’s combined Jumping Individual 2nd Qualifier and Jumping Team Round 1 after blood was found on the horses’ flanks.

Cassio Rivetti (UKR), with Fine Fleur du Marais, and Stephan De Freitas Barcha (BRA), riding Landpeter Do Feroleto, will not be eligible to participate in the second round of the competition Wednesday, the Jumping Individual 3rd Qualifier and Team Round 2 (Team Final).

Stephan Ellenbruch, President of the Rio 2016 Equestrian Olympic Ground Jury, stated: “Horse Welfare is the most important element of equestrian sport. Disqualification under this rule does not imply that there was intent to injure the horse, but it is essential that the rules are enforced in order to ensure that horse welfare ‎is protected.”

*Please see FEI rule below:

Article 242.3.1 Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose or marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Disqualification.)

“Stephan used the spurs during the competition to encourage the horse but unfortunately broke the skin, resulting in mandatory disqualification, which is clearly set out in the rules of our sport,” Brazilian team Veterinarian Rogério Saito said.

The Brazilian team filed a protest to the Ground Jury against Stephan de Freitas Barcha’s disqualification. The Ground Jury issued their decision confirming the disqualification. An appeal against the decision of the Ground Jury was subsequently lodged with the Appeals Committee, which also confirmed the disqualification.

FEI Contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

US Olympic Show Jumping Team Withdraws Beezie Madden

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team has withdrawn Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ from competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Cortes ‘C’ sustained an injury during Round One of the Team competition on Tuesday and in the best interest of the horse’s welfare, the decision has been made to withdraw Cortes ‘C’.

The U.S. will head into Wednesday’s team final in a four-way tie for first. As a three-member team, the U.S. will not have a drop-score to utilize in Round Two.

Beezie and John Madden made the following statement:

“We are heartbroken to announce that Cortes ‘C’ sustained a tendon injury in yesterday’s competition and will be unable to compete for Team USA today. We are confident that he will make a full recovery. While we had hoped to do everything we could to help the USA towards a medal today, Tiny’s [Cortes ‘C’] best interests must come first. We are so thankful to our teammates, sponsors, and most importantly, his owner, Abigail Wexner, for understanding that in this sport, sometimes winning means doing right by your best friend. We will be there today on the sidelines doing everything we can to support Kent, Lucy, and McLain.”

From the USEF Communications Department

US Tied for First after Round One of Team Show Jumping Competition at Rio Olympic Games

Kent Farrington and Voyeur (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The equestrian venue at Deodoro Olympic Park was filled with excitement Tuesday for the second day of show jumping at the 2016 Olympic Games. A total of 69 athlete-and-horse combinations representing 24 countries, including 15 teams, competed in the first half of the two-round team competition, which also served as the second qualifier for the individual finals. The U.S. team produced three clear rounds which put them in a four-way tie for first place with The Netherlands, Germany, and Brazil, each with zero faults. France is hot on their heels with one fault, followed by Canada with four.

Guilherme Jorge’s course was less technical than what he had set for Sunday’s first individual qualifier. He included added dimensions with long approaches to the fences for a time allowed of 81 seconds that proved to be a challenge for some riders. Power, speed, and accuracy proved to be the winning formula to complete Jorge’s second course clear.

The trailblazer for the U.S. was Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) and Amalaya Investments’ 14-year-old KWPN gelding, Voyeur. Repeating their foot-perfect performance from Sunday, this dynamic duo produced the second clear round of the day to get the U.S. off to a great start.

“I wouldn’t say it’s massive in size yet, but I am sure that’s to come,” Farrington said of the round one course. “I think tomorrow will be significantly bigger. It’s exactly what you would expect at a championship level. The time allowed is quite short, which I think is going to be a factor either through time faults or rails down because of people worrying about the time. Obviously, I am thrilled with my horse. It was a great start for Team USA.”

The second rider for the U.S. was Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.), piloting Old Oaks Farm’s Barron, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. Davis and Barron were poised and ready, matching Farrington’s performance with a second clean round for the U.S. team.

“I’m very relieved now that it’s over. After yesterday’s rail I hoped that it would set me up well for today and it definitely did,” Davis said. “He was incredibly sharp and with me. I was maybe a little more tense than usual. I really wanted this for the team. I think tomorrow I will be a bit more relaxed after seeing how well he handled this day and how confident everyone on the team is. It’s nice in my position. I can really count on them [my teammates]. I am pretty lucky, especially for the Olympics, to be on a mount like Barron. He makes it easy.”

Riding with his trademark textbook style, Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) with Double H Farm and Francois Mathy’s Azur, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, cruised around the ring and turned in the third fault-free performance for the U.S.

“Once I jumped through the triple I kind of settled in,” said Ward. “I knew the team was in a good position. Obviously, we needed to be clear today to be in a good position for tomorrow. We are a good team. So far we didn’t lose it. I think tomorrow will go up another level.”

Beezie Madden and Cortes 'C' (Shannon Brinkman Photo)
Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ (Shannon Brinkman Photo)

Riding anchor for the U.S. team, Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) entered the ring on Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’ knowing that the U.S. had three clear rounds they would not need her score. Still needing a score for the individual competition, Madden and the 14-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding experienced an unfortunate rub at fence three and a misplaced foot at the water jump to accumulate eight penalties.

“It was a short seven up the first line, and maybe I was a little casual about the back rail, and then he clipped that,” Madden said. “The water has been riding difficult all day. I just didn’t quite get across. I think he actually finished better than he started in the course, so hopefully tomorrow we’re in good shape.”

Madden and Cortes ‘C’ will continue Wednesday in the team competition; however, with a total of 12 faults after two days of competition, they will not move forward to Friday’s individual final.

Action continues Wednesday as the top eight teams from round one return for the final round of the team competition. Riders who qualify will advance to the two-round individual final on Friday.

NBCOlympics.com Team Final Live Stream

Keep up-to-date on equestrian competition at the Rio Olympic Games on the USEFNetwork.com. Coverage includes links to live streams and TV coverage, athlete bios, behind-the-scenes photos, and more.

Classic Communications/USEF Communications Department