Olympic Eventing: Germans Win Team Gold, U.S. Rider Gets Silver

Australia took the early lead in the 2008 Olympic eventing team competition, winning the dressage phase with strong performances. But the German team surpassed the Aussies on cross-country and refused to relinquish the lead, remaining in front after the jumping phase to clinch the first equestrian gold medal awarded at these Hong Kong Games.

Fast, clean cross-country rounds moved German team members ahead. Clear jumping rounds with no time penalties by Ostholt and Dibowski helped Germany keep its lead to clinch the gold medal with a total of 166.10 penalty points, over the Aussies' 171.20.

Great Britain won bronze with 185.70.

Several riders commented that the bright arena lights, which lit up the main competition arena at Sha Tin to virtually daylight levels for the nighttime event, as well as noise from the excited crowd of nearly 18,000, were distracting to their horses.

"It was the light that affected him," U.S. rider Phillip Dutton said of his round on Connaught, which earned eight jumping faults. "He wasn't concentrating but was jumping high. He was not focusing, and I'm a bit disappointed."

German team celebrates

The German team celebrates.

The U.S. team finished seventh with 250.00 penalty points.

After a 25-horse individual medal final, Germany's Hinrich Romeike and Marius had a clear round to maintain their dominance and win gold. U.S. rider Gina Miles and McKinlaigh won individual silver with their clear round, and Britain's Kristina Cook and Miners Frolic took the individual bronze.

Fortunately, the evening hour (competition began at 7:15 p.m. and wrapped up shortly before midnight) and the weather gods combined to make Hong Kong's heat and humidity largely a non-issue. At 10:00 p.m., temperatures were around 81°F and humidity levels were a sticky 84%, but most horses galloped around with energy to spare.

Two horses--including Gina Miles's McKinlaigh--were jogged a second time during the second veterinary inspection, but all were declared fit to compete.

Don't miss the Olympic Equestrian blog by award-winning equestrian journalist Jennifer Bryant. She will be giving us behind-the-scenes looks at what's happening at the Olympic equestrian events.

About the Author

Jennifer O. Bryant

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation's magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site, www.jenniferbryant.net.

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