Equestrian’s third and final Olympic event, jumping, kicks off on Sunday in Rio.
Horse and rider combinations will jump fences consisting of poles inside the Olympic Equestrian Centre, with penalties for knock-downs, refusals, falls, and exceeding the time limit. The horses must exhibit obedience, stamina, and nimbleness.
Twenty-seven nations, 15 teams, 12 countries, and 75 horse-and-rider combinations will be competing for titles.
U.S. & World
The competition will begin Aug. 14 at 9:00 am ET. Riders will compete in one round of jumping, and will not jump-off against the clock. Jumpers will have Monday off due to the dressage freestyle competition. The second portion of the jumping competition will take place on Tuesday Aug. 16 and Wednesday Aug. 17. Tuesday will serve as a qualifying round for all teams and will take place over different courses. The top eight teams will advance to Wednesday’s final round. The top 35 riders will qualify and compete in the individual final where medals will be awarded on Friday, Aug. 19.
Great Britain is seeking to defend its title as reigning gold medalists. Although the team tends to be on the older side compared to their competitors, they shouldn’t be underestimated. Great Britain’s quartet is composed of riders who know what it takes to win. Nick Skelton and Ben Maher will return from the London squad and the Whitaker brothers Michael and Jon are at the top of their game even though it’s been 32 years since the two took silver in the Los Angeles Games. Sketon and his horse Big Star have been on a successful run recently and don’t plan on stopping in Rio. The British will put up a strong fight for the gold.
London’s silver medalists, the Dutch are looking to dethrone Great Britain and claim gold. Since London, the team has only showed signs of improvement. The Dutch won both team and individual gold medals from both the 2014 Alltech FEI Equestrian World Games and last summer’s FEI European Championships in Aachen. Maikel Van Der Vleuten and Jur Vrieling will be returning in hopes to add a gold medal to their collection.
Brazil is looking for a big performance from 25-year-old Stephan de Freitas Barcha and gelding Landepeter de Ferolento. The duo has been on an impressive run in recent months. Brazil is looking break their three consecutive Olympic rut and land a spot on the podium in their home court for a fairytale ending.
There will be an intense battle between the 15 teams for a spot on the podium.
Individually, Switzerland’s reigning individual gold medalist Steve Guerdat is the man to beat. Guerdat will battle to hold his reigning title, but also to make history. If Guerdat claims back-to-back individual gold medals, he will be the first in Olympic history to do so. If Guerdat is able to achieve back-to-back gold, his accomplishment will be even greater because he will be competing with the same horse, Nino des Buissonnets.
Guerdat’s biggest threat will be America’s McLain Ward of Brewster, New York. The 40-year-old is a three-time Olympian who took double team gold medals in Athens and Beijing. Ward’s confidence has been the key to his success. The rider’s copious wins across the U.S. and Europe this year have only proved that he is prepared to put up a fight for an Olympic gold.