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U.S. finishes eighth of 16 teams at WEG and misses qualification for the Olympics

TRYON, N.C.--The U.S. team of Will Coleman, Boyd Martin, Lynn Symansky and Phillip Dutton finished a very disappointing eighth of 16 teams and didn't manage to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Phillip Dutton 1 photo by Shelley Higgins DSC 5893Phillip Dutton (Photo by Shelley Higgins, MacMillan photography)The team's next opportunity to qualify is in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru next year.

One big question from these Games is that, after the U.S. dominated Eventing for 40 years, why has the U.S. done so badly for the past decade.

Dutton of West Grove, Pa.,, riding Z, was the team's top finisher, 27.6 in dressage, clean cross country with 6.4 time penalties and clean in stadium jumping to finish 13th on a score of 34.0.

“I think he is the best horse I’ve ever had," said Dutton of Z. "We are going to work on his fitness. It’s not that natural for him to gallop for 10 or 11 minutes yet, but it’s like marathon runners, over time I think he’ll get better and better. He loves it, and there hasn’t been a day since I’ve had him that he hasn’t improved. He’s great, and he has a great work ethic.”

Symansky of Middleburg, Va., on Donnor, was ninth after a double clear cross country on 28.3 but fell apart in jumping with 12 faults to finish 25th on 40.3.

 

“I AM PRETTY disappointed, but I am still so proud of the horse," said Symansky. "He is unbelievable, he is just incredible. I am not a very Lynn Symansky 1 photo by Allen MacMillan KSR5621Lynn Symansky (Photo by Allen MacMillan)emotional person, but I found myself a few times pinching myself on how appreciative I am of the horse of a lifetime. I would like to have brought back a better score for myself and the team, but this is part of the game.”

Martin of Cochranville, Pa., on Tsetserleg, had a stop cross country and 12 faults in stadium jumping to finish 56th on 70.7, and Coleman on Tight Lines had two stops cross country and 12 faults in jumping to finish 66th of 70 finishers from 82 starters.

One question is what do we do now, but the bigger question is what happened to this country in Eventing, a sport in which this country was dominant for 40 years but has failed miserably for the past 10 years.

And if it weren't for two repatriated Australians, Dutton and Martin, who have been the backbone of the team for most of those 10 years, with Dutton giving the U.S. its only medal in those 10 years, an individual bronze in Rio in 2016, we could have been even worse.

Where are the Americans that should be stepping up to the plate?

It was not just a few great riders that provided America with its dominence for 40 years, but 22 different riders that contributed to the success of the U.S.

In 1964, the U.S. was team of Lana duPont, the first woman to ride  in Olympic Eventing, Kevin Freeman, Mike Page and Mike Plumb that won the  team silver medal in Tokyo to begin the 40 golden years.

In 1968, it was a team silver and and individual bronze for Page in Mexico City, in '72 in Munich, team silver, in '76 in Montreal with Tad Coffin winning individual gold and Plumb individual silver, no participation in Moscow in 1980, in Los Angeles in '84, team gold and Karen Stives individual silver, in '96 in Atlanta, team silver and Kerry Millikin idividaul bronze, in 2000 in Sydney, team bronze and David O'Connor individual gold, and in 2004 in Athens, team bronze with Kim Severson individual silver.

At World Equestrian Games, in 1990 in Stockholm, the team was fourth with Bruce Davidson individual silver, in 1994 in The Hague, team fourth and Dorothy Trapp individual silver, in '98 in Rome, team fourth, in 2002 in Jeraz, team gold and individually John Williams fourth, Dutton fifth and Severson sixth, and in '06 in Aachen, team fourth and Amy Tryon individual silver.

Along with those individuals winning medals, riders Jimmy Wofford, Torrence Watkins, Karen O'Connor, Nina Fout, Linden Weisman, Darren Chiacchia, Mary Ann TuaskeyMike Huber, Abigail Lufkin,Heidi White and Will Faudree contributed to that accumulation of team medals.

Then in the past 10 years, in 2008 in Hong Kong, the team was seventh of 11 teams, in 2010 in the WEG in Lexington, the team of Karen O'Connor, Martin, Dutton and Buck Davidson, finished fourth, in '12 in London, the team was seventh of 13 teams, in '14 in the Normandy WEG, the team was eliminated, and in Rio in 2016 the team was eliminated but Dutton saved the day from complete disaster by winning the bronze medal.

So again, without Dutton and Martin, where would we be.

Where are the Americans of today to succeed those who were so dominant for 40 years?

It wasn't because the U.S. was facing lesser teams in those 40 years.

There were spectacular teams from Australia, Great Britain, Germany and New Zealand, teams peppered with names like the two Roycrofts, Andrrew Hoy, Richard Meade, Lucinda Green, Ian Stark, Leslie Law, Pippa Funnell, Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd and Blythe Tait.

“I’ve been through nearly a year cycle with the athletes and their horses, what the team can use to our advantage, and what we need to use more of to our advantage,” said U.S. Eventing Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander. “This whole 10 months with the team has really been about learning as much as possible, and having a very clear picture of what we need to do to put this team together to be a world class team. There are many elements – eventing is quite complex - that we need to get right or be better at. That is a fact. At the end of the day, we were eighth today as a team and that is our gauge; we know where we are as a country. We need to put in a lot of work.”

The Eventing Team will now need to utilize the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru as their qualification opportunity for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Gold Rosalind Canter photo by Sarah Miller DSC 1970Gold medal winner Rosalind Canter (Photo by Sarah Miller for MacMillan photography)“The first part of it is around planning – planning the horses’ immediate futures and further out,” said Duvander. “I didn’t have a chance to do that this time because of when I came in, the plans were already set. This is an opportunity for me to put a two-year plan together with the riders for the Olympics, and a four-year plan for the next World Games. I think that is essential, so that we have all the horses prepared and have ticked all the boxes before we go to a championship.”

Great Britain's team of Gemma Tattersall, Piggy French, Tom McEwan and Rosalind Canter, won the team gold medal, finishing on 88.8, with Ireland taking the silver medal 0n 93.0, and France winning the bronze on 99.8.

Canter, finishing on her dressage score of 24.6, won the individual gold after the leader going into stadium jumping, Germany's Ingrid Klimke, had the last fence down to add four faults to her dressage score of 23.3 to drop down to bronze medal position, and Ireland's PadraigMcCarthy won the silver medal, finishing on his dressage scoreof 27.2.

 

 

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