Dec. 22, 2018
Olympics Eventing: French Grab Olympic Eventing Team Gold
Christopher Burton, AUS, Santano II, Dressage test evening (Photo © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans) 06/08/16
Christopher Burton, AUS, and Santano II competing in the Cross country phase at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Pic Arnd Bronkhorst)
Michael Jung, GER, and Sam FBW competing in the Cross country phase at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Pic Arnd Bronkhorst)
Michael Jung Medals: Gold Individual and Silver team Medalist, Michael Jung of Germany (Pic Arnd Bronkhorst)
Nicolas Astier, FRA, and Piaf de B'Neville competing in the Cross country phase at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Pic Arnd Bronkhorst)
A clear show jumping round from Astier Nicolas and Piaf de B’Neville clinched team gold for France in the Eventing Team Final at Deodoro, the first gold medal of the Rio 2016 Games for France and only the second medal overall. (Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI)
Individual Podium(left to right) Silver Nicolas Astier FRA, Gold Michael Jung GER and Philip Dutton USA Bronze (Pic Arnd Bronkhorst)
France clinched team gold in Olympic Eventing at the Olympic Equestrian Venue at Deodoro Park August 9, 2016, with defending champions Germany in silver and Australia slipping from the overnight lead to bronze. In a cliff-hanger of a contest, it came down to the last four into the arena to decide the result.
The Australians led as the day began, but with only a 4.5 point advantage over their New Zealand neighbors, while the French were just 6.2 further adrift and the Germans were stalking the leading pack over 11 penalty points further behind. France was the only one of the leading sides to go into the show jumping phase with a fully intact four-member team. In the end, that proved the clincher.
The 12-fence track tested the turning skills of horses that took on one of the toughest Olympic Eventing cross-country tracks of all time. But most were jumping fresh and well again, and the pure quality of the four French horses was key to success.
Australia’s grip on the lead was severely undermined by their opener, Stuart Tinney, whose horse Pluto Mio kicked out four fences and went over the time-allowed to collect a very expensive 17 faults. This dropped Australia into bronze medal spot, and left New Zealand out in front despite a single mistake from opener Jonelle Price with Faerie Dianimo.
With the luxury of the full four-rider side, the French were looking very comfortable after fabulous rounds from both Karim Laghouag with Entebbe and Thibaut Vallette riding Qing de Briot. But they began to look vulnerable when Mathieu Lemoine’s Bart L got tired towards the end of the track and left two fences on the floor for eight faults.
The Kiwis lead was further enhanced by a clear round from Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation, while the
Australians held their ground when Sam Griffiths returned on a zero score with Paulank Brockagh. Their chance of gold was gone, but they would hold onto bronze if the man who has led the individual standings throughout the competition, Christopher Burton, could bring Santano II home without incident.
As the final moments played out, the Germans loomed large on the horizon when Sandra Auffarth (Opgun Louvo), Ingrid Klimke (Bob) and Michael Jung (Sam) posted three superb clears to pile the pressure on the three teams ahead of them. The French didn’t flinch, and a foot-perfect run from Astier Nicolas and Piaf de B’Neville meant France posted a finishing score of 169.0 penalties.
Gold: Michael Jung, GER (40.90)
Silver: Astier Nicolas, FRA (48.00)
Bronze: Phillip Dutton, USA (51.80)
The US Team suffered two eliminations on cross country. The U.S. team was tied for sixth heading into Monday's cross-country phase. Lauren Kieffer and Clark Montgomery both failed to finish the course, eliminating the U.S. team. Kieffer and Veronica were in the middle of a strong run when the pair caught a gate toward the end of the track and both toppled to the ground. Fortunately, neither Kieffer nor her horse was seriously injured. Montgomery was eliminated after his horse, Loughan Glen, refused to jump three times.
Phillip Dutton, however, followed with a solid ride, making it around the cross country course with no jumping penalties and only 3.2 time penalties. He and Mighty Nice, a 12-year-old gelding, were less than 10 penalties off the leaders heading into the show jumping phase. Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, one of the greenest mounts in the field, finished the course with only 3.2 time penalties added to their score, boosting them from 35th to sixth in the standings. Unfortunately, the pair had 12 show jumping penalties, dropping them to 16th place. Team USA finished 12th overall.
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