Tuesday, August 12, 2008

3-Day Eventing - Individual Silver

First up, during the morning session for Team USA, was Amy Tryon and her Poggio II. Protesters holding up banners gave the 16-year-old gelding a startle or two. In their second Olympic Games, the pair were otherwise strong and put down a 46.50 (so far at 14th place after Day One).
Gina Miles and the massive McKinlaigh looked like stars and strutted around the ring to bring home a 39.30 on their dressage score. The 14-year-old gelding dominated the ring, finishing the day at seventh place.
During the evening session, the sole American up was Becky Holder and Courageous Comet. They finished their dressage work with a score of 35.70 to lead the Americans and land in fourth place.

Sunday’s first American rider will be Karen O’Connor. Mentioning her name, you can’t help but think of what she has endured this past year with losing her 2007 Horse of the Year, Theodore O‘Connor. Last year were the exciting heights of winning double-Gold medals at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, aboard the wonder-pony. And this year, there were the devastating blows of losing her prized and much-loved competition partner in a freak accident after qualifying the pair for a spot at this very Olympic Games.

But, like the true champion she is, Karen forged forward, luckily having qualified a younger horse, Mandiba, for this year’s Olympics, as well. Originally a reserve rider, she found Lady Luck smile on her when Heidi White was forced to withdrawn her Northern Spy from the U.S. Olympic Team in eventing for veterinary reasons. Karen and Mandiba soon found themselves with a spot on the team and a chance to perform at Sha Tin.

During a press briefing the American team gave, Karen was asked about Teddy and she offered up a very moving and personal bit of information.

“Sarah Broussard [now Kelly] made a bracelet from Teddy’s tale,” she softly. “I’ll be wearing it.”

Cross Country:
Our best finisher was Gina Miles and McKinlaigh - they ended up at fifth going into the final day of show jumping tomorrow. My fingers are crossed that she gets a medal - it would be so great. She’s super nice, and this is her first Olympics. It would be something to see her on the medal podium.
Other than Gina, it didn’t seem like the Americans could buy a break today. After Amy’s elimination, four-time Olympian Karen O’Connor on the nine-year-old Mandiba found trouble in a couple of places, leaving them in 54th place. Teammate Becky Holder and her Courageous Comet landed at 48th place. Aussie-turned-American Phillip Dutton and Connaught faired much better, ending their efforts at 14th place.

The Germans were on fire as were the Aussies. Shane Rose was the fastest of the day. He doesn’t pull and those were the horses that handled the terrain the best, he cruised around in a rubber snaffle on a loose rein.

In the end, heading into the final phase of eventing - show jumping - the American team sat in a surprising seventh place. There was no denying it was a surprise to many.

Germany had a big night Tuesday in equestrian competition, taking gold medals in both team and individual eventing. Germany has won the gold medal in equestrian team eventing in an exciting showdown with Australia that went down to the final two riders.

Great Britain was well behind the two leaders and took the bronze in Tuesday's final.

Germany's Hinrich Peter Romeike clinched the gold for Germany with a show jumping round on Marius that dropped only one rail.

He followed Megan Jones of Australia on Irish Jester who also dropped one fence. Germany and Australia were only one rail apart after the grueling cross-country phase Monday and held those positions for the medals.

After the team round, the obstacles were raised and the riders then jumped again to determine individual medals with the result once more in doubt until the end. The top eight riders were separated by a score of just one dropped rail, which counts for 4 points.

Miles went clean in both rounds and moved from fifth to second, while Cook also had two clean rounds and made the podium after starting the evening in 10th.


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