Team USA Gallops to Pan American Games Show Jumping Victory

Podium Pan American Games Santiago 2023 Show Jumping

In a thrilling display of determination and equestrian excellence, Team USA achieved an unforgettable victory at the Pan American Games show jumping competition in Sacramento, Chile, rising from fifth place after the initial round to seize the coveted team gold on November 1, 2023.

This win was the eighth in the history of the Pan American Games for the United States, and it had an even more significant implication—it secured their spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics, where they will proudly represent their nation. McLain Ward, who held the gold-medal position as the team advanced to the individual finals on Friday, shared his reflections on this remarkable triumph.

“As everybody knows, our primary goal was to qualify for the Games and to win a team medal here, to represent our country with pride,” he emphasized. “I thought the team rallied brilliantly and achieved it with remarkable style today.” However, amidst the celebration, Ward made it clear that they can’t rest on their laurels. “The fact that it took us so long to qualify serves as a reminder that we can’t become complacent after a successful week here. We have work to do to prepare for Paris and to compete against the world’s best.”

The victory was not without its challenges. The team’s performance began on a shaky note in the two-round Nations Cup competition, with some riders facing difficulties in the initial round. McLain Ward, paired with his Tokyo Olympic partner Contagious, set a positive tone by delivering a double-clear round. However, teammate Karl Cook, who had faced struggles in the competition’s first day, encountered further obstacles with Caracole De La Roque, accumulating three rails down.

The team’s experienced riders, Kent Farrington and Laura Kraut, took up the challenge, both riding less experienced horses, to deliver impeccable performances. Riding Landon and Dorado 212, respectively, Farrington and Kraut posted double-clear rounds. These faultless performances proved pivotal, setting the stage for a remarkable team comeback. By the end of the first round, the combination of three clear rounds and missteps by the Brazilian team saw the U.S. rise to second place in the rankings. This elevated position made them strong contenders for both a medal and Olympic qualification.

In the second round, every member of the U.S. team demonstrated their prowess, delivering clear rounds and clinching the team gold. This win also propelled three U.S. riders into the top 10, with Kent Farrington in eighth place and McLain Ward and Laura Kraut securing the top two spots.

The team’s tenacity and teamwork shone through, and the riders expressed their elation and determination:

McLain Ward: “As everybody knows, our A goal was to qualify for the Games and to win a medal here as a team, [to] represent our country well” Laura Kraut: “It was extremely nerve-wracking this whole day. Two mediocre rounds would have lost it for us. I was so relieved when the three before me went clear.”

Karl Cook: “It was not the most fun. You can’t expect it to be there before you go; you just have to [say], ‘I’ve done the best I can, now it’s time to ride.’ ”

Kent Farrington: “He’s an inexperienced horse for this level of competition. I’m thrilled with the performance, great progress for my horse.”

Team Canada also mounted an extraordinary comeback in the competition, clinching the silver medal. The team rebounded from a challenging first round to deliver three clear rounds in the second round, securing their place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The achievement marked a significant moment for the Canadian team. The competition was a roller-coaster of emotions, filled with unpredictability and intense competition.

Team Brazil, initially leading the pack, faced a dramatic setback with unexpected faults. Brazil’s pathfinder Veniss and third-line rider de Freitas Barcha delivered clear rounds, but the team came under immense pressure. Team Mexico, finishing fourth, showcased resilience and secured the third available ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Together with Team Canada and Team USA, these countries will be seen at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, to battle against the best countries and riders in the world. Now, the focus shifts to the individual finals, where riders will strive for individual glory.

The Pan American Games show jumping competition was a testament to the riders’ unwavering commitment to equestrian excellence and their unrelenting pursuit of Olympic dreams. As they advance to the next stage of their journey, these equestrian athletes continue to inspire with their remarkable feats in the world of show jumping.

Full results:

Source FEI | Photo Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman

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