Judges give Germans back eventing gold, Ruling reversal costs U.S. team bronze

By Joseph Schwerdt, NBCOlympics.com

ATHENS -- Germans swept the eventing gold medals Wednesday, despite a ruling that had stripped them of the team title and crippled Bettina Hoy's individual hopes.

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"All day long I had mixed emotions," Hoy said, "from happiness to sadness."

American Kim Severson took bronze in the individual competition, behind Hoy and Great Britain's Leslie Law. Severson earlier fell just short of securing a team bronze for the U.S. when she dropped a rail on the final jump. The four-point penalty dropped the U.S. to fourth.

Hoy rode flawlessly on the show jumping course Wednesday afternoon to seal the team gold for Germany. But after a protest by the French team, judges ruled Hoy violated the rules by crossing the start line twice in her pre-ride preparation.

"I had no idea I passed twice," Hoy said. "I realized only 15 minutes after my competition when the French protested."

Hoy and her mount, Ringwood Cockatoo, were docked 12 points. Germany fell to fourth, putting France in first. Great Britain was elevated to silver and the U.S. to bronze.

Hoy fell to eighth in the individual standings. The top 25 riders qualified for a jump-off to determine the individual winner.

But the ruling was reversed on a German appeal and the standings were changed back to their original order during the individual event. The Appeal Committee ruled that the clock had been restarted before Hoy passed it the second time.

Hoy, once again a team gold medalist, went on to ride a clear round to clinch solo gold.

"We looked at the situation and we all agreed that the incident was primarily caused by an error in the management of the competition," said Hugh Thomas of Great Britain, a member of the appeal committee. "When an error is made in the management of the competition, it is right to make sure the rider does not pay the consequesces."

French rider Didier Courreges said his country's equestrian federation will appeal the ruling.

"At first we were pleased with our silver medal," he said. "Then we cheered about being awarded the gold when the officials results were published. Now we are backed to silver and we do not like it."

Hoy is the wife of Andrew Hoy, who had won three straight team golds for Australia. Andrew Hoy won silver last year, but did not qualify for individual honors on Mr. Pracatan in Athens. Australia finished sixth in Athens.

The Hoys celebrated together after Bettina's winning ride. As Andrew offered rousing cheers, Bettina broke down in tears. The Hoys now have six Olympic medals between them.

"Andrew was great," Bettina Hoy said. "I always asked him how amazing it must have been for him to be a gold medalist. Now I understand the feeling."

The winning team is decided by the combined scores of a nation's three best riders. Scores are determined by adding the penalty points incurred during three phases of competition: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The lowest scores win.

Germany won with 133.8 points. France posted 140.4 points and Great Britain 143 points. The U.S. missed a medal by 2.6 points.

Riders' scores from the jump-off are added to their previous marks to determine the individual medal winners.

France's team silver was won on the strong riding of Nicolas Touzaint, who posted the best scores in the dressage and cross-country phases. But Touzaint struggled badly on Galan De Sauvagere in the jump-off, recording 19 penalty points.

Americans Amy Tryon on Poggio II finished seventh and Darren Chiacchia on Windfall 2 placed 12th.

"I couldn't have hoped for anything better," Tryon said of her first ride Wednesday. "My horse has got his own style and I have never lost faith in him."

The U.S. had moved to third just prior to Wednesday's team competition when British rider William Fox-Pitt withdrew his mount Tamarillo, who was injured during the cross-country phase.

The withdrawal dropped the Brits to fourth in the team competition.

But Pippa Funnell was brilliant on Primmore's Pride on Wednesday, meaning Severson needed a flawless ride to save a medal for the U.S. Severson appeared to struggle on several jumps, but ran clear until the last jump.

"I thought I did really good," she said. "I don't know what happened in the end."


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