Monday, August 18, 2008

GOLD FOR USA IN FINAL + PANDAS!!!

GOLD FOR USA JUMPING TEAM!!!

The night was extraordinary – USA and Canada in a jump off for the gold! A North American sweep of the gold , and silver jumping. First time ever!! Norway was bronze, their first ever jumping medal (from what they tell me)…it was a night to remember. After all the bad and unfortunate events for our 3 day squad, and the dressage squad. We truly have something to cheer about. The USA wins back to back Olympic gold (2004 – Athens, and now 2008 Bejiing!). The course was huge and very demanding, and again, the water jump caused the most problems – it was over 4 meters wide, and tonight it was followed by 5 strides to a very short (23 foot ) in/out of maximum vertical rails! That is the combination with the very ornate dragons on the posts that I have included in the pics. A big course, only 5 clear rounds out of 48+….but the medals came down to the very last rider of the night, our own Beezie Madden. After last night, when she had a refusal, we were all sitting on our seats…..if she went clear , we win the gold outright..if she has a dropped rail, we go into a tie with Canada. All the jumps were clear, but one foot in the water (actually on the landing tape of the water) and 4 were added.. Jump off!!! Ian Millar from Canada, jumped clear in the initial round to put Canada into the lead with our final rider to go. He is competing in his 9 Olympics! 8 + the alternate Games in 1980, when we all boycotted Moscow….and he has never, ever won an Olympic medal. Tonight, he was the star to beat…if we had not won the gold, and Canada had,,,there would still be rejoicing in the show jumping world. Bittersweet tho, because Ian’s wife of many years (decades actually) passed away this past winter and could not be here to see him win the silver…but, we think the angel on his shoulder was actually her. A very special and lovely story….Ian Millar finally getting his medal from the Games.

The heavily favored German team had a bad few days here, and finished just outside the medals. Who’d have thunk? The Aussies were in the hunt for a while, but one of their stars, fell in the warm-up arena and broke his collarbone! No kidding…and right in front of me..I was out in the back and this rider, Peter MacMahon was having a terrible time with his horse in the schooling area. I watched him fighting with his horse for over 10 minutes, just not quite in harmony, and then, they jumped right into the middle of the practice oxer, fell down, and both of them came up injured! The horse was on three legs, and Peter knew right away he was hurt too, as he checked his shoulder , and sure enough, there was the clavicle “parted at the seams”. For those riders who have broken your collarbone (including yours truly) you know what I mean. His horse actually had just stung himself, and after a few minutes trotted out fine and sound. Peter was seen to by the medical team, we gave him a bottle of water , and away he walked (on his own) to be x-rayed by the med staff. Too bad, cuz Australia was in the hunt at that time.

In the jump off, all three USA riders jumped clear: Laura, Will (1st Games), and Mclain - Beezie didn’t have to go cuz we had secured the medal at that time. For Canada, Jill had one down, Eric Lamaze was clear, and then Ian did not have to return as we had just gotten the gold. A wonderful night for the sport of show jumping and we had a sold out crowd who stayed till the very end, and with the medal ceremony, as good as ever, we ended the team competition with our US anthem. Because I did not go to Sydney when David won, and because , in Atlanta, I was only a spectator, not part of the backstage portion, I have never experienced the medal ceremony like tonight. The flags for the ceremonies are raised on poles, right next to our announcing and judging tower. I was literally, right under them as the Stars and Stripes were raised. With my hand over my heart (Cub Scout Pack 894, Den 1 take heed here….) I was so proud of our team as the flags went up! It must be ever cooler to have it raised for you as an athlete….nothing like it!

Gina Miles, our silver medalist from eventing, and our dressage team riders were all in the mix too, with their hats, and flags. Steffan, who may have a chance at a bronze individual tomorrow night, was there as a team supporter! I told him…silver(Gina)…..gold (Jumping team)….ONE MORE TO GO (bronze for him)!!! He told me, see you tomorrow night…to which I replied,,,it will give me great pleasure to introduce you tomorrow night on the PA!! Go USA!!!!!!!!

Side note: We did indeed get to see the pandas this AM…they have a terrific habitat and they, of course, were all asleep, except one, who was eating away! Our pandas in DC are just the same…kind of black and white….interesting……fun to see pandas in their native land, eh? Canadian dialect there…did you get that?

More tomorrow after the freestyles - should be a wonderful night…Ashley and Pop Art get to go first…and she uses the Epcot fireworks music from Disneyworld…I asked her if she wanted me to organize some REAL, NON FAKED fireworks for her opening! She laughed and told me to get it done……

See ya, Brian

3 Comments:

At Monday, August 18, 2008 at 2:08:00 PM EDT , Blogger fran said...

Huge Congratulations to you Americans.........The best schooled horses and the most stylish riders. Well done to all of them.
Must be tricky to keep the emotions in check when your flag goes up, but of course you are ever the professional.
Good luck to Stefan tomorrow.

 
At Monday, August 18, 2008 at 2:33:00 PM EDT , Blogger Meghan de Garay said...

Brian,

First of all – thank you so much for getting your blog up so quickly after each event. It really helps people like me who just need more info after all the excitement and drama! I am so proud of all the US Team members in all the disciplines for being such amazing athletes and their good sportsmanship through it all.

I am incredibly proud of our show jumping team and everyone associated with them. They are all class acts and truly act like a Team which is apparent to everyone watching.
It was wonderful to see Canada on the podium along with the Norwegians! Just a great day for show jumping to see so much quality rise to the top.


Looking forward to the Freestyle tomorrow. I

Best to you,

Meghan

 
At Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 3:28:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian,
We just got back from Hong Kong, watching the eventing and 1 day of jumping,and it was so good to find your blog and imagine we are still there watching. It was great listening to you announce. Your explaination of the what was happening was very helpful, and when you interviewed David it really helped to understand what was going on! You did a fantastic job! Thanks for all the info.

 

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