LIMA, Peru — Local riders helped the United States get on the podium at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.
The U.S. Eventing Team concluded competition capturing the team gold medal on Aug. 4 and secured their qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next summer. The show jumping team followed with a bronze medal in team competition.
The eventing team finished on a collective score of 91.2, producing four double clear efforts in the final phase. Brazil earned the second Olympic qualification slot and ended on a 122.1 to collect team silver. Canada finished in third place with an overall score of 183.7, for bronze. Individually, Boyd Martin rode Tsetserleg to gold, while teammate Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play earned the silver. Doug Payne finished just off the podium with Star Witness for fourth place, while Tamie Smith and Mai Baum concluded their weekend in 17th.
Tamie Smith (Murietta, Calif.) and Mai Baum, a 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano x Rike) owned by Alex Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, & Erick Markell, were the first U.S. combination to test the show jumping track, designed by Guilherme Jorge (BRA), and produced a beautiful double clear round to jump-start the day for the United States.
“He feels ready to go again. He just felt great today. He really ate up the atmosphere and couldn’t have been better. I’m really proud of him,” said Smith. “That’s what makes this sport beautiful. I’m just really grateful that my teammates performed great. My horse is wonderful, and we were both a little caught out there yesterday and that won’t be a mistake we have again.”
With the pressure mounting after two strong rounds from the Brazilian team, New Jersey native, Doug Payne (now of Aiken, S.C.) and Starr Witness, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Chello III Veneur) owned by Payne, Laurie McRee, and Catherine Winter, navigated the course with determination and speed, securing the second double clear round for the team. Payne was quick to thank the staff, supporters, and fans for their continued encouragement.
“For a championship like this, you show up and the vast amount of support that we get both from U.S. Equestrian, the owners, all of the support staff. We are really the top that’s visible, but we wouldn’t be here without their help, and of course the horses. They put forward a great effort and we’ll forever be appreciative.”
Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and RF Cool Play had a rail in-hand to keep their second-place position on the leaderboard, but didn’t need it, as the duo crossed through the timers with a fault-free effort. Symansky was complimentary of the team’s performance and the overall efforts displayed throughout the competition.
“This is a group that knows each other already. We all get along really well, and it does make the pressured environment easier when you have a group of people that supports each other when things don’t always go according to plan. It’s pretty special to not have everything go one-hundred percent for everyone yesterday and to come back out and do four clean rounds. It’s a nice feeling to wrap everything up with.”
For Martin, the anchor position for the team was a successful one during both the dressage and cross-country phases, and the final day of competition was no exception. Guiding Tsetserleg, an 11-year-old Trakhener gelding (Windfall x Buddenbrock) owned by Christine Turner, Martin secured not only the team’s gold medal finish but also his own individual gold achievement with their faultless ride.
“This is a big relief. We all worked very, very hard. There was a lot of pressure coming here, and it’s just good to pull off a good performance. I think it was a brilliant competition. It was everything you dream of in a championship. I think the crowd had an exciting contest to the very finish, and this was much harder of a competition than I expected. We came here and were under the gun a bit, and we all stepped out and tried our hardest…we have great horses and good riders. We have the best coach. There was no stone left unturned.”
In a decisive and highly-anticipated competition for the U.S. Eventing Team, Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander led with a composed and stead-fast aura, giving his team both the guidance and confidence needed to achieve their goal of securing a qualification for Tokyo 2020.
“I’m just honestly really pleased to be a part of this group. Today is the rider’s day and the owner’s day. I’ve seen how much work these guys have put into this; the preparation and how much it means to them, and then be able to execute. I couldn’t wish for a better ending than four clear rounds, and that’s a really strong performance. Everyone stayed on task through to the very end. If we can keep building on what we did here and keep that momentum it will get us closer and closer. It’s about using every day we have before Tokyo to keep improving in the same manner that we’ve been working now,” he concluded.
The competition also marked the end of an era for the U.S. Eventing Team, as Managing Director Joanie Morris completed her final championship competition with the program. Morris, who has been a figurehead within the discipline for the last decade, closed out her tenure accomplishing the only goal for the Pan American Games, earning the coveted qualification.
“I’m incredibly proud of this entire team. This job has been an incredible privilege, and I was proud to see it through to Olympic qualification, as that was the goal here. Individual gold and silver are just the icing on the cake, and it was two riders who have been in this program since the beginning of my time with US Equestrian. I’m very proud of them and look forward to all of the team’s successes in the future.”
The U.S. Jumping Team brought home the bronze medal on Aug. 7. Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, the team of Lucy Deslauriers, Alex Granato, Eve Jobs, and Beezie Madden put in solid performances with three members contesting their first championship competition.
“We came here for a medal, that’s what you always do in a championship, and we went away with a medal,” said Ridland. “We were a little bit disappointed because we were in the fight for the gold until the end, and then the silver slipped away. What I’m most proud of is that all four of the riders were an essential part yesterday, putting us where we were, and today as well. Everybody participated in a group effort, and I’m very proud of that.”
As part of the long-term plans for the U.S. Jumping Team to give more experience to up-and-coming riders in team competition, these Pan American Games showed the strength of the pipeline of riders ready to join championship teams.
“We were in a favorable position coming in, having already qualified for the Olympic Games, but we sent a team that we knew would be competitive for the gold medal, which it was,” said Ridland. “It was important to have them be able to ride side-by-side with Beezie and all her experience and have [alternate] Richard Spooner as part of the team and be absolutely instrumental all week long. To be able to have three riders that have never been in a championship before come away with a medal, that’s what it’s all about.”
The scores from Wednesday’s two rounds of team competition were added to Tuesday’s opening round scores (with a drop score from each) to determine the team medals.
The pathfinders for the U.S. in the team rounds were Alex Granato (Wellington, Fla.) and Carlchen W, an 11-year-old Mecklenburg gelding owned by Page Tredennick. They had four fences down for 16 faults in round one.
Granato believes he “overthought” his first round. “He is such a fresh, oversensitive horse, and I went in and put a little more pressure on him in some places that I didn’t want to,” he explained. “Going where I did in the team order, it was not my ideal plan to put pressure on my teammates.”
Riding out of the second spot in the team order, Lucy Deslauriers (New York, N.Y.) and Hester, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Lisa Deslauriers, had an eight-fault performance.
Eve Jobs (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and her own Venue d’Fees des Hazalles, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, put in a critical clear round for the U.S. in round one.
“I really owe that round to her because I was really nervous, and she helped me a great deal,” said Jobs of her horse. “She always fights for me, and that’s one of the things that I love so much about her. She wants to win just as much as I do.”
With an additional clear first round fortwo-time Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Breitling LS, Abigail Wexner’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, the U.S. Jumping Team sat in second place on 10.09 penalties behind Brazil with 7.39 penalties and followed by Mexico with 10.97 penalties.
Granato and Carlchen W had a determined comeback in round two, finishing with just one fence down and a single time fault for a total of five faults. After adding to their previous total, they finished with 21.92 penalties.
“He felt a lot more level-headed this round,” said Granato after his second ride. “I would have liked to have started with that this morning, but it gave me something to dig in and fight for to have a better round. That is the end of our game [this week], so I feel like we’re going out on a really confident and strong note.”
Deslauriers and Hester also had a significant improvement in round two, recording a clear round for the U.S. team. They finished with 9.32 penalties.?
“There were three or four places where I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with my ride, so I was just really focusing on fixing those things,” noted the 20-year-old Deslauriers. “These weeks [at a championship] really are ultimately about performing for your team, so I was just really happy that I could pick up from my two down in the first round and help them out a little bit.
“Representing the United States at any level feels special and important,” Deslauriers continued. “When it goes well, it’s even better. To do it at a championship alongside one of my best friends and two other riders I’ve looked up to, there are no words.”
Returning in the second round, Jobs and Venue d’Fees des Hazalles tallied eight faults for a final total of 9.17 penalties, but a podium finish was a consolation to the 21-year-old riding in her first championship.
“It’s like a dream come true,” expressed Jobs. “I really wasn’t expecting this, especially to win a medal not only with people that I’ve looked up to in the sport for years, but with one of my closest friends; I can’t even put into words how happy I am.”
With two fences down in the careful line across the middle of the arena that challenged many competitors, Madden and Breitling LS ended with eight faults, which gave them eight penalties overall.
“I think there was maybe just a little lack of focus at the first fence [down] and that maybe distracted him for the second fence,” said Madden of her two rails. “I can’t really say there was any really big mistake there. I thought he jumped well both rounds, and it just didn’t go my way that round.”
As the most experienced rider on the team who has competed in four Olympic Games and is at her third Pan American Games, Madden pointed out, “I think the Pan American Games are a super stepping-stone to the Olympic Games. You get the same team atmosphere, the same pressure, trying to win a medal here. People get excited about it. I compliment this venue. It’s fantastic and they’ve done a super job. I think we have a great team here. It’s been a super experience so far, and we look forward to Friday.”
The U.S. Jumping Team finished on 23.09 total penalties for the bronze medal. Brazil won the gold on 12.39 penalties and Mexico received the silver medal with 22.97 penalties.
While all four U.S. riders finished Wednesday’s team competition in the top 35 individually, only three athletes from any one nation may advance to the individual final on Aug. 9. The top three U.S. riders, who all finished in the top nine in the individual standings, will advance to the individual final where they will start on a clean slate for faults for the final two rounds.
Beezie Madden, Lucy Deslauriers, and Eve Jobs will return for the individual final, in which athletes will compete in the first round at 12 p.m. and the top 20 return for a second round to determine the individual medals.
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