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Germans Are Best Jumpers

September 29, 2000|From Associated Press

Germany pulled out a narrow gold-medal victory over Switzerland in the Olympic team show jumping event Thursday, 15 faults to 16.

The bronze was decided by a jump-off, with Brazil beating out France after each finished the first two rounds with 24 faults.

The United States finished sixth.

Otto Becker put in the two clear rounds on Cento that the Germans needed to repeat their gold-medal performance in Atlanta.

"My horse jumped both rounds unbelievably," said Becker. "It was a great feeling and great fun."

Switzerland was paced by Willi Mellinger on Calvaro V with two clear rounds. Rodrigo Pessoa, the current world champion and favorite here for individual gold, had three clear rounds for Brazil, including the jump-off.

The U.S. streak in Sydney of three medals in three events ended with the jumpers' sixth-place finish. U.S. riders had won individual gold and team silver in the three-day event and bronze in team dressage.

Margie Goldstein Engle of Wellington, Fla., jumped clean in the morning on Perin, but had eight faults in the afternoon.

"I thought we were already out of it," she said. "I was just trying for another clear to move the team up."

Each team's four riders rode twice, in the morning and afternoon. The lowest score per session was dropped for the team score.

Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, Wis., had one rail down riding Liberty in the morning for four faults and eight more faults in the afternoon. Clasiko and Lauren Hough, of Ocala, Fla., added eight faults in both sessions.

"We ran out of steam at the end, and Liberty was exhausted," said Kraut. "Two big rounds in one day is a lot."


The six-year battle between the two brightest stars in equestrian dressage took a dramatic turn early in the competition for individual Olympic medals.

Anky van Grunsven and Bonfire of The Netherlands overtook Isabell Werth and Gigolo of Germany atop the standings in the Grand Prix Special test today.

Susan Blinks of Wellington, Fla., improved on her team score on Flim Flam, scoring 71.2% for sixth place.

"I was really psyched. He's really on," Blinks said of her mount. "He's definitely getting better and better."

With 15 more riders later today, it was unclear if Blinks would hold on to make the top 15 that advance to Saturday's Grand Prix Freestyle test that will decide the medals.

Werth and Gigolo won the gold in Atlanta in 1996, with Van Grunsven and Bonfire taking the silver.

Werth had been leading after the team test Wednesday, but scored 75.67% today to 78.13% by Van Grunsven. The combined percentage scores from the two tests put Van Grunsven comfortably ahead of Werth, 153.13 to 151.99, for the individual medals.

Werth attributed her lower score to a higher standard by judges because of her past exploits.

"Critics are always looking step by step when you've been on top for a long time," she said. In the competition though, Bonfire performed an elastic, attentive test while Gigolo took some stiff steps early in his performance but was brilliant at the end.

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