ATHENS, Greece -- American rider Chris Kappler won bronze in
show jumping Friday, relieved not just to win a medal but to learn
his horse -- which broke down on the course -- was not seriously
Kappler's horse, Royal Kaliber, was taken from the Olympic arena
in a trailer and examined at the onsite veterinarian clinic.
Officials later said the horse, which suffered a strain injury to a
front leg tendon during a timed jumpoff, would be fine.
"I felt very close to a silver because he was jumping great,"
said Kappler of Pittstown, N.J., who was somber on the medals stand
while awaiting word on his mount. "Then he seemed to land and take
a funny step. He took another funny step after the next jump and I
knew I had to pull up."
Ireland's Cian O'Connor had a rail down in the first round with
Waterford Crystal and was one of only two riders to jump clean in
the second to win the gold.
"I'm going to celebrate with a Guinness," O'Connor said. "The
gold medal is very good for the country as a whole. My horse is
very rideable. I was comfortable going into the last round."
Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa won silver by default after Kappler
pulled up. He had eight faults in the first round and jumped clean
in the second.
Pessoa had mixed feelings about the way he won his medal.
"It's never nice to defeat an opponent in this way," he said.
"Our horses are precious to us. Chris is a super rider, and the
horse is very great. I had a poor first round and really got my act
together in the second round."
The individual show jumping event includes completing two
courses, the second one shorter but higher than the first. A
dropped rail or a refusal counts four faults, and exceeding the
time limit also earns faults.
McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., returned for the second round on
his mare Sapphire after earning eight faults in the first.
"She's been jumping very good," Ward said. "A little mistake
here and there costs a lot at the Olympics. This is an incredible
team to be part of."
He had a bigger mistake in the second round when his bridle
broke and he had to withdraw.
Beezie Madden of Syracuse, N.Y., was the heroine of the team
event, also called the Nation's Cup, earlier in the week when she
and her young horse Authentic put in two clear rounds and led the
Americans to a silver medal.
But her hopes for an individual medal ended in the first round
Friday, when she earned 12 faults.
"We had a great day in the Nation's Cup, and that's what we
came for," said Madden. "He's had a lot thrown at him this week.
The Nation's Cup was exciting, and I'll never forget it."
Earlier in the week, Germany won the team show jumping gold,
while the United States took silver over Sweden in a timed jumpoff.
In the other Olympic equestrian events, Americans took team
bronze in dressage. They also won team bronze and individual silver
in three-day eventing after the dust cleared from a series of medal