Canadian Eventing Team Poised to Compete at Pan American Games
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Following Thursday's horse inspection at the National Equestrian Centre located 30 kilometres north of downtown Rio de Janeiro, Canadian Eventing Team Technical Advisor David O'Connor announced the team members and individuals that will compete for Canada in the eventing competition taking place July 20 to 22.
The four team members will be Kyle Carter on Madison Park, Sandra Donnelly on Buenos Aires, Waylon Roberts on Paleface and Michael Winter on Kingpin. They will vie for team medals against three other nations: Argentina, Chile and the defending gold medalists, the United States. Jessica Phoenix riding Exploring with compete for Canada as an individual, and all four team members are also eligible for individual medals. In addition to the four countries fielding teams, the host country of Brazil has two individual entries while single entries from Jamaica and Uruguay bring the total number of competitors to 24.
Two of the Canadian Eventing Team horses were bred in Canada. Sandra Donnelly's 10-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding Buenos Aires, a horse she bred herself, and the 12-year-old Canadian thoroughbred gelding Paleface, ridden by Waylon Roberts. At 18 years old, Roberts is the youngest member of the Canadian Equestrian Team in Rio de Janeiro, and the youngest competitor in the Eventing competition at the Pan American Games. Roberts is also the only Team member to have competed previously in Brazil, when he was Canada's representative at the 2002 FEI Children's Final in Show Jumping.
The 2007 Canadian Pan Am Eventing Team includes two seasoned veterans. Calgary native Kyle Carter, 38, represented Canada at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, MB. Toronto's Michael Winter, 32, has the most international experience having led Canada to a Team Silver Medal in Pan Am competition in 2003, and also competing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens where he was again the top placed Canadian.
Sandra Donnelly, 37, of Calgary, AB, is a newcomer to the Canadian Team while, at the age of 23, Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, ON, is also making her Canadian Equestrian Team debut in Rio de Janeiro.
The first phase of the three-day event, dressage, begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 20. Canada has drawn to go sixth out of seven countries, which means they will be the third out of four teams to compete. Carter will lead the way for Canada followed by Roberts, Donnelly and, riding in the anchor position, Winter.
The following day, Saturday, the speed and endurance phase, commonly referred to as 'cross-country', will take place over a newly built FEI three-star course designed by Sue Benson of Great Britain. The course is located on rolling terrain adjacent to the equestrian complex. O'Connor, the 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist for the United States, walked the course with the Canadian athletes for the first time before Thursday's horse inspection.
"The course is very well presented," said O'Connor of the 10 minute long test that will challenge horses with 32 numbered obstacles and 40 jumping efforts. "There are some serious questions on this course, and more terrain than we were expecting. I think it will be a good competition all the way around."
The final phase of the three-day-event, show jumping, will take place on Sunday. At the conclusion of the competition, team and individual medals will be awarded.
In addition to winning medals, Canada is also looking to earn qualification for the 2008 Olympic Games. The top two teams (excluding the U.S. which has already qualified with a podium finish at last year's World Equestrian Games) at the Pan American Games will earn a berth for the 2008 Olympics. The equestrian events for the 2008 Olympic Games will be staged in Hong Kong due to equine health risk concerns in mainland China.
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