Oct. 29—Guadalajara, Mexico
Christine McCrea finished out the week the same way she started it: perfectly. She didn’t log a single fault over five rounds of show jumping at the Pan American Games to score the individual gold medal aboard Romantovich Take One.
McCrea edged out teammate Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo, with Brazil’s Bernardo Alves taking bronze on Bridgit.
The top 25 riders jumped twice today to vie for individual medals. Only the top three horses from any nation may return, so eighth-placed Kent Farrington watched fellow U.S. teammates Madden, McCrea and McLain Ward from the sidelines.
Heading into the final round of show jumping, one rail separated the top five riders. Neither Madden nor McCrea had earned a fault all week, with Madden .88 points ahead thanks to her quicker time on speed day.
In the final round, Mexican hopeful Alberto Michan fell out of contention when Rosalia de la Silla left a little long to an oxer and logged 4 faults, his first rail in five rounds. Alves rode a perfect clear, and Ward's Antares F, who sat third, ticked the back rail of an oxer with a back hoof. He finished fourth.
McCrea put the pressure on Madden with a clean and clear round. While Madden jumped clean, she looked up at the clock at the end of her round and saw she was just .07 seconds over the time allowed to log a single time fault.
“I knew the time was tight,” said Madden, Cazenovia, N.Y. “I opted to go a little too slow to the last fence. One less stride somewhere could have done it. It was a choice I have to make in split seconds, maybe it was wrong, maybe it was right, I don’t know.
“It cost me a lot, but thank goodness I have a strong team, and Chris was able to pick it up," she continued. “We were still gold and silver, as well as team gold. I have no complaints."
McCrea headed into the last round feeling poised and ready.
“Luckily for me, nerves are a good thing,” said McCrea, East Windsor, Conn. “They keep me from being a slacker. I was nervous in a good way. I knew what I needed to do, and I’m just happy it ended the way it did.”
These two medals came on the heels of Thursday’s team gold, which earned the United States a ticket to the London Olympic Games.
Alves felt happy to be the only South American to crack the U.S. stronghold on the medals.
“I’m glad I got the bronze—there was a lot of competition,” he said. “I tried to catch [McCrea and Madden], but I couldn’t. But I’m really happy with my horse and really happy to be here.”
-Ian Millar survived a hairy moment when Star Power stumbled badly upon landing from a big square oxer, just six strides from the open water. Millar fumbled to get his reins, getting a hand on them just in time to take off for the water. Incredibly, he still managed a double-clear round. Check out the photos here.
“It was a very unfortunate day for Ian,” said Canadian Chef d'Equipe Torchy Millar. “He had a beautiful first round but, in that round, the horse stumbled badly upon landing and went to his knees and looked uneven in his walk as he left the ring. As the afternoon progressed, Star Power seemed to be more uncomfortable. It was a decision not to risk further injury by competing in the second round.” Brazilian entry AD Norson and Álvaro Miranda Neto, who lay 17th, also opted not to return for Round 2.
-Rodrigo Pessoa, who logged a double clean performance on Thursday and lay sixth heading into today, did not present HH Ashley at this morning’s jog.
-Course designer Javier Fernández, a Guadalajara native, edged up the fences today, with several reaching the maximum height of 1.60 meters. He also tightened up the time allowed, with only six riders making it around double clear this morning, and two—McCrea and Alves—doing so in the afternoon.
-This afternoon also put the rubber stamp on the individual invitations to the London Olympic Games earned at the Pan American Games. Fédération Equestre International Director of Jumping Capt. John Roche confirmed that both Argentina and Colombia will be have two spots apiece, and Bermuda will have one slot. These are afforded to the nations, not to specific individuals from them.