By Kenneth J. Braddick, Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct. 27.
The United States won team gold, Brazil silver and Mexico bronze at the Pan American Games Thursday, with the USA, Mexico and Chile gaining tickets for next year’s Olympics. The Pan Ams were the last chance for the U.S., winner of team gold at the last two Olympics in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, to send a team to London. But they did it with a dominating performance with all four riders going clear over the final two rounds at these championships that, like the Olympics, are held once every four years. Brazil and Canada were already qualified.
Not since 1975 has a single nation won all three Olympic discipline Nations Cups of dressage, eventing and jumping at the same Pan Ams, and the U.S. did it then.
The U.S. led from the start of the jumping competition with two clear rounds in the first qualifying competition Wednesday and all four going clear in both rounds Thursday. So dominant has the U.S. been that the top three places in the individual rankings are filled by U.S. combinations.
In the individual rankings, Beezie Madden on Coral Reef Via Volo is 1st, Christine McCrea on Ramonatovich Take One 2nd and McLain Ward on Antares F is 3rd. Kent Farrington on Uceko is 8th. As only three riders from any one nation can advance to the individual finals, Kent will not participate.
The strain of qualifying for the Olympics next year was summed up by McLain Ward, the winner of team gold medals from the last two Olympics, who said: “It has been a lot of stress to qualify for the Olympics. I felt there was more pressure than at the Olympics. To have not qualified would have been a disaster.”
Rodrigo Pessoa who rode HH Ashley for three clear rounds said the Brazilian team came with the goal of winning silver knowing how strong the U.S. squad would be. “We spent two days chasing the Americans and trying to stay ahead of the Mexicans,” he said.
The individual final will be held Saturday.
Mexico slipped from their second place after the first qualifying day, and a Brazilian squad that matched the U.S. clear round for clear round moved into silver medal position after the first round Thursday. In the first round, all four riders for the United States and Brazil went clear. But in the second round the Brazilians faltered and posted two rounds each with one rail down.
The U.S., Mexico and Chile will join Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, host nation Great Britain, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland at the London Olympics, with one more to qualify at a competition in the Middle East in December. This will be Chile’s first Olympic team appearance in at least 20 years.
Results of the team competition:
1. USA 2.90
2. Brazil 11.58
3. Mexico 13.24
4. Canada 21.92
5. Chile 32.52
6. Argentina 52.61
7. Colombia 56.19
8. Venezuela 70.07
9. Guatemala 78.39
10. Ecuador 85.61
11. Uruguay 96.28
Top Ten Individually:
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