Sunday, October 3, 2010

WEG Eventing Final: Germany’s Jung And Great Britain Claim Gold at Eventing World Championship

Michael Jung (GER) takes his victory gallop (©Nan Rawlins/Equimage®)
 Lexington, KY — It was back to Rolex Outdoor Stadium today for the conclusion of the Eventing World Championships, presented by Reem Acra, where Germany’s Michael Jung (33.0) remained dominant and claimed the individual gold medal as Great Britain (139.4) took the team gold medal.

Canada jumped to the team silver medal (151.5), just ahead of New Zealand (154.8) in the bronze-meal position. The United States finished fourth (160.3).

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Cool Mountain (©Nan Rawlins for Equimage® Media)

William-Fox-Pitt led the British charge on Cool Mountain by claiming the individual silver medal (42.0), while Andrew Nicholson led the New Zealand charge on Nereo by claiming the individual bronze medal (43.5). Karin Donckers of Belgium finished fourth (44.4).
Andrew Nicholson on Nereo (©Nan Rawlins for Equimage® Media)
Great Britain last won the World Championship team gold at the 1994 World Games, while Canada had not won a World Championship medal at all since winning the team gold medal at the 1978 World Championships here at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“It’s very hard to pinpoint one thing to mark our success,” said Fox-Pitt.  “I think we’re very lucky back home to have fantastic support. And we have a good team here—we’ve been on lots of teams together now.  We get on and have a lot of fun.  We’re also riding fantastic horses, and we had luck on our side. Tina [Cook] didn’t have the luck on her side [on cross-country], so the pressure was very much on but the other three of us had a great competition, and we’re very lucky today.”

Team Canada (©Nan Rawlins for Equimage® Media)

The Canadian riders said that they owe much of their success to coach David O’Connor, who won the team gold medal on the U.S. team at the 2002 World Games.

“He is so responsible for, not just coaching us, but putting together the program that has created these results,” said team member Kyle Carter.  “Four years ago the WEG was a real disappointment for us, and since then it’s gotten stronger and stronger—and it has everything to do with him.  Everybody he’s brought in is just excellent and top-notch.  He’s brought another level to it.”

The Canadians also praised O’Connor for helping with their mental game.

“He encourages us with positive reinforcement mentally, so it’s not just about the riding,” said team member Selena O’Hanlon.  “It’s about what you do at home, how you think about it, and how you visualize it.  I think that’s really big part of it, because in every other sport I can think of—like football, tennis, all of them—you have to read books to make sure you are mentally fit as well.”

Nicholson said he’d hoped New Zealand could earn a medal for the first time since winning the team gold at the 1998 World Games.

“I was hoping to have a chance to get an individual medal,” said Nicholson.  “I obviously have a lot of confidence and faith in Nereo.  He’s very consistent in all three phases, and as a team we’ve come
“I was hoping to have a chance to get an individual medal,” said Nicholson.  “I obviously have a lot of confidence and faith in Nereo.  He’s very consistent in all three phases, and as a team we’ve come along through this year and gotten a bit more together and a bit stronger.  I was thinking if we could get in the top four or five as team—so to get a medal as a team is a great bonus.”

Teammate Mark Todd, 54, competed in the 1978 World Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park before winning the individual gold medal in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. He retired from eventing after the 2000 Olympics but decided to make a comeback two years ago. His top horse Gandalf died unexpectedly last winter, and he wasn’t sure Grass Valley would be ready for these World Games until a few months ago. But now he has a new wind in his sails. 

“It’s just like starting over really,” said Todd.  “I’m really enjoying being back in the sport.  I’ve got a nice team of young horses coming along.  I’ve got a great bunch of team members here.  This team has been fantastic to be involved with, and I think we can only get better from here on in.  The sport changed a lot, obviously, even since I gave up. It’s taken a wee while to sort of adjust to this, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.”

Jung remained atop the leader board throughout this championship on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, finishing on their dressage score of just 33.00.  Jung credits his success to the time he spends with the horse.
Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW (©Nan Rawlins for Equimage® Media)

“I have trained him to do everything, and I’ve been with him almost daily,” said Jung.  “That’s why he trusts me.  We’re very good working together because of our longstanding working and training together. Over the last few years we’ve grown together so much, and I really hope that we can do this in London [the 2012 Olympics].”

Richard Jeffery’s show jumping course consisted of 16 elements to be jumped in a time allowed of 90 seconds.  Some 22 of the 55 horse-and-rider combinations that started today’s final phase completed the course with double-clear rounds.

The U.S.’s only individual combination, Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, stood third overall after yesterday’s cross-country phase, but Holder withdrew in the holding box at the third horse inspection this morning.  Courageous Comet lost a front shoe on the early part of yesterday’s course and is thought to have over-compensated in the opposite leg.  He is expected to make a full recovery.

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