Olympic sports are always on a world stage, and this year more than ever, the eventing competition needed to be a success. Preparing a cross-country course of Olympic proportions in an environment where the weather could all too easily have been disastrous, as well as allowing for nations of various skills and abilities, was a massive undertaking that came off amazingly well.
It all came down to a jump-off for the gold medal, Aug. 21, between Eric Lamaze of Canada and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson of Sweden. They were the only riders to post clear rounds over both courses of the individual Olympic show jumping final in Hong Kong, China.
By the time Lamaze entered the arena, he knew he’d only need to jump clear to best Bengtsson, who’d already had a rail. Lamaze just put the pedal down coming to the final wall. “I basically went as fast as I could and hoped that even if I knocked it we’d be faster,” he said.
Denis Lynch said he can explain how Latinus tested postive for capsaicin, the banned substance that prevented him and three other riders from competing in the individual show jumping final at the Olympic Games, Aug. 21 in Hong Kong, China.
He commonly applies a topical substance called Equi-block to his horse's back to loosen the muscles before working, he said. The label on the bottle he produced read, "Contains capsaicin—will not test."
Any hope for a close race for the gold medal between Isabell Werth and Anky van Grunsven slipped away tonight, Aug. 19, when Satchmo resisted again in the piaffe, as he’d done three nights earlier in the Grand Prix Special. The mistake opened the door for van Grunsven, who specializes in freestyle with her Salinero, and she welcomed the opportunity.
Heike Kemmer finished third aboard Bonaparte, just ahead of Steffen Peters and Ravel.
The U.S. team prevailed for the gold medal in a jump-off against Canada, whose team fought back today, Aug. 18, despite having to withdraw Mac Cone’s horse, Ole, due to an injury. Norway jumped up to the bronze in an unprecedented achievement for their riders in Hong Kong, China.
“Not only was it an exclamation point for the U.S. but for North America, maybe the best day in our sport for North America,” said McLain Ward, lead-off rider for the U.S team.
The U.S. show jumping team stands tied for first with Switzerland, on 12 faults, after the first round of team competition, Aug. 17 in Hong Kong, China, despite uncharacteristic trouble for Beezie Madden and Authentic. The Swedish team is third (13), and Great Britain and Canada are tied for fourth (16).
Although the timer on the arena Jumbotron read "-1" when Heike Kemmer of Germany entered the arena last night to start her Grand Prix Special, Aug. 16 in Hong Kong, China, FEI delegate Mariette Withages said she actually entered within the 45 seconds allowed after the bell is rung.
"It was borderline, but she still had 1 second left," said Withages. "One of the volunteers hit a button, and the system recognized that as a bug, and it became -1 on the scoreboard. We went to the broadcasting and could really see that she had come in on time. It was close, but it was in time."
The top riders in dressage proved that even they can make mistakes in the Grand Prix Special of the Olympic Games, Aug. 16 in Hong Kong, China.
Throughout Satchmo’s trotwork, Isabell Werth of Germany was earning scores in the low 80s, far ahead of her competitors, but when she went into her first piaffe, the unthinkable happened as Satchmo performed six or seven steps, then reared up and began backing up for several steps.
Dutch rider Imke Schellekens-Bartels made the difficult decision to withdraw Sunrise from the Olympic dressage competition prior to the Grand Prix Special. Schellekens-Bartels and Sunrise helped the Dutch take team silver with a Grand Prix test that scored 70.87 percent. She was ranked fifth in the Grand Prix individually, though riders will start the Special and freestyle for the individual competition with a clean slate.
In the first individual show jumping qualifier, Aug. 15 in Hong Kong, China, the U.S. jumpers posted three clears and one four-fault round. As a result of tonight’s competition, the U.S team—the only team to finish on 0 faults after dropping one score—will compete last in the team competition, which starts Sunday.