Showjumpers bring their ‘A game’ to the Olympic Equestrian Arena during the first individual qualifying round on Sunday.
The race for an individual spot on the podium is nothing short of fierce with twenty-four horse and rider combinations performing clear rounds to create a twenty-four way tie for first place heading into Tuesday’s round. The individual talent in this year’s games is extraordinary. The return of many Olympic veterans and talented medalists makes for a very intense battle.
Germany’s Christian Ahlmann set the bar high as the first person to exhibit a flawless performance, clearing every jump with grace. U.S. rider Kent Farrington fired back with flawless performance to tie Ahlmann for first place. Janika Sprunger (SUI), Philippe Rozier(FRA), Stephan De Fritas Barcha (BRA), Meredith Michaels- Beerbaum (GER), Jerome Guery (BEL), Maikel Van Der Vleuten (NED) , Sheikh Ali Al Thani (QAT), Peder Fredricson (SWE), Alvarado Doda De Miranda (BRA) , Daniel Deusser (GER), Edwina Tops-Alexander ( AUS), Amy Millar ( CAN), Roger Yves Bost (FRA), Henrick Von Eckermann ( SWE), Pedro Veniss (BRA), Karim Elzoghby (EGY), John Whitaker (GBR), Harrie Smolders (NED), Eric Lamaze (CAN), Sergio Alverez Moya ( ESP), Steve Guerdat (SUI), and Rene Tebbel ( URK) all answer to Ahlmann’s perfect performance to tie for first place leading into Tuesday’s round.
Reigning individual gold medalist, Nick Skelton earns a twenty-four way tie for the No.27 spot on the individual leaderboard with a penalty score of 4 jumping points. Skelton must redeem himself in Tuesday’s round in order to defend his golden title.
Although twenty-four riders performed flawless rounds, many riders took surprise to the difficulty of the course. Jump penalties and refusals were a common trend, but overthinking the water jump seemed to be the rout of most problems. If the horse stops at the jump, they don’t recover.
The competition began with 75 horse and rider combinations, allowing the top 60 performers to advance individually.
The crowd says it all for Brazil’s performances in the first round of the individual jumping qualifier. The team deserved three crowd roaring standing ovations after star performances from Stephan De Freitas Barcha, Alvero Doda Demiranda, and Pedro Veniss. All three individuals exhibited flawless performances without accumulating any penalty points. The team will participate in Tuesday’s jumping round looking to go neck and neck with Germany for gold. All teams will start with 0 penalties. If the individuals continue to show the same dominance in Tuesday’s team jumping qualifier there is no doubt that they will land a spot back on the podium for the first time since 2000, and even better in their home court.
Germany continues to show equestrian dominance in the first round of the individual jumping qualifier. After taking home the eventing team bronze, individual eventing gold, and dressage team gold , the country is determined to conquer the showjumping team gold. Three-time Olympian, Christian Ahlmann set the tone for the team as the first individual to perform a clear round. Meredith Michales-Beerbaum and Daniel Duesser followed Ahlmann’s lead with flawless performances. Ludger Beerbaum almost earns a perfect score until knocking down the last jump for a penalty score of 4. If each individual continues to perform perfect or near perfect runs, Germany will be a tough contender to beat.
The Dutch, Canada, Switzerland and France would tie for third place with penalty scores of 4 if team scores mattered in Sunday’s round. Qatar follows with 5 penalty points and Great Britain, Team USA, Spain and Sweden would tie for eighth place on the leaderboard with a combined total of 8 penalty points.
The team competition and second individual round kicks off Tuesday at 9:00 am EST.