Rio de Janerio – Aug. 19, 2016 – On Friday, the equestrian events at the 2016 Olympic Games concluded with the Individual Final for Show Jumping, where 35 of the world’s best athletes returned to compete. All began on an equal score of zero, and of the 35 returning entries for the first round, 13 were clear and moved onto the second round with no faults to their name, including the United States Kent Farrington.
Farrington and five others produced a second clear round as the day continued, creating a six-way jump-off for the medals, which would include Farrington, Greta Britain’s Nick Skelton with Big Star, Switzerland’s Steve Geurdat with Nino Des Buissonnets, Qatar’s Sheikh Ali Al Thani with First Devision, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson with All In and Canada’s Eric Lamaze with Fine Lady 5.
Farrington returned fourth in the order, but his luck did not continue as he lowered the height of the first fence and the last fence with Voyeur to incur 8 faults in 42.23 seconds, which would only be good enough for fifth place.
“I don’t think it’s too common in an Olympic Games to have that many clear in one round,” said Farrington. “I don’t know that there have ever been six horses jumping off for a gold medal at the end. I think my horse was a little bit tired coming back late like that. I think maybe if he had more time to rest before the jump-off, also would have helped.”
Farrington added, “It’s my first Olympics. I thought my plan and my setup to peak the horse for here was very good. I thought he jumped great all week, and to be in contention to win it in the end was obviously awesome. It didn’t go our way, but we’ll be back at it next time.”
In addition to Farrington, the United States had two other riders qualify for the Individual Final. Lucy Davis was the first to represent the U.S. in the ring aboard Barron, but the duo looked a bit fatigued. With a foot in the water and two rails down they did not qualify for the second round on their score of 12 faults.
McLain Ward and HH Azur only had one error in the first round, lowering the height of the ‘C’ element in the triple combination, but even with the 4 fault score they advanced to the second round.
“The mare jumped brilliant again,” he stated. “I was a little worried about the back rail of ‘B.’ It’s really the only fence she’s had down all year. Maybe I overrode her there and then the two got very short. The course is very repetitively testing big strided horses. Everything is short, short, short and that is a bit of a challenge for us. It was one mistake too many.”
When Ward returned for the second round, he and the talented Belgian mare Azur cleared the massive track, but with the 4 faults from the first round they did not make it to the jump-off and tied for ninth place
“I thought she jumped brilliant,” he commented. “I maybe woke her up a little more for that second round, she was getting a little tired today I think. I thought the course was much more suited to a bigger horse. I personally think the first course was really suited to the small horses, the adders, but that’s the test, and we have to also answer that test. I am thrilled with the horse, but disappointed with the day.”
The Individual Final in Show Jumping marked the conclusion of the equestrian events at the 2016 Olympic Games, and athletes will now look ahead to the other major championships on the horizon, including the 2018 World Equestrian Games and the 2020 Olympic Games.