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August 18, 2004

*On Appeal, Germany Wins Both Gold Medals

The German Eventing team (GER) on the podium after winning the Gold Medal during the team show jumping round for eventing at the Markopoulo Equestrian Center at the Athens 2004 Olympics in Greece.

* Please note: Continuing updates on the eventing controversy have been reported on Breaking News. See Aug. 20, 21 and 24 reports for the latest news.


As the second show jumping round got underway at 8:45 tonight at Markopoulo, everything that had happened earlier had changed. First the Germans thought they'd won the team gold medal, then the French thought it had been awarded to them, and then the Germans got it back.

         Briefly, right after Bettina Hoy completed her round to, apparently, nail down the team gold, the ground jury of Christoph Hess, Cara Whitham and Angela Tucker noticed there'd been an irregularity--that Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo had crossed the start line twice on their way to the first fence. And so they penalized her with 12 time faults, which meant that the French had won the team gold medal.



          But the Germans then appealed that decision to the Appeal Committee, composed of FEI Vice President Freddy Serperi, Hugh Thomas and Gabriela Klingenberg. They reviewed the case and concluded that, yes, Hoy had crossed the line twice, but it was because, when she looked at the scoreboard clock, it hadn't started. So she circled to go through the line again.


          "We have to make sure that the rider is not put at a disadvantage because of something we have done, and that is the basis of this decision by the Appeal Committee," said Thomas. He said the confusion was the fault of the organization, but he declined to name anyone specifically. "It is a team involved," he said.


          Federation Equestre Internationale rules state clearly that any decision by a competition's Appeal Committee cannot be further appealed. Nevertheless, the French federation is reportedly filing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Bo Helander, secretary-general of the FEI, said he didn't know if the CAS would hear the case as the FEI follows CAS guidelines and the rules are clear regarding the Appeal Committee's jurisdiction.


          Great Britain won the bronze, and the U.S. was fourth, 2.6 penalties behind the British.


          Despite the confusion, Hoy kept her composure and guided Ringwood Cockatoo to a round with only one mistake (at the planks at fence 4, which about half the 25 horses knocked down). She also finished 2 seconds slow, giving Nicolas Touzaint of France a cushion of two rails. But Gavant De Sauvagere, who'd looked unbeatable for the last three days, lowered four rails and finished 3 seconds slow, dropping all the way to ninth place and making today's show jumping a complete French Waterloo. Touzaint said that Gavant De Sauvagere was tired "and the fences were bigger than he expected."


          Leslie Law of Great Britain duplicated his perfect team round with a second faultless performance to complete his climb from 11th place after cross-country to the individual silver medal. Law and Amy Tryon, on Poggio, were the only riders to add no faults at all tonight, and Tryon moved up to a final seventh place as a result.


          But the U.S. hero was Kim Severson, who rode Winsome Adante to the individual bronze medal with one rail down in each round. "It didn't feel much different jumping two rounds, except that I wasn't as nervous before the second round because it wasn't for the team," she said. "The second round was just for my horse, myself and his owner {Linda Wachtmeister]."


          Darren Chiacchia and Windfall lowered two fences in each round to end up 12th.   Although they were both in the top 25 after the first round, John Williams and Julie Richards couldn't ride in the second round as Olympic rules allow only three riders per nation to compete for individual medals.


          Pippa Funnell and Primmore's Pride finished fourth with only one rail down (in round 2), and World Champions Jean Teulere and Espoir De La Mare were fifth after lowering two rails in the first round and one rail in the second.