McLain Ward and Clinta secured the gold medal for team USA. He along with the rest of the team brought home the first gold medal at the World Equestrian Games, and it was on home turf.
A tough competition
After two rounds the U.S. riders sat in silver medal position with 12.59 faults. Switzerland was the overnight leader, however, they ran into some trouble when their first rider, Werner Muff picked up 13 faults and Janika Sprunger was eliminated after her horse Bacardi VDL refused the second fence twice.
The first three Swedish riders all jumped clear so when Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K dropped two rails, they added nothing to their overnight score. The U.S. riders did not find the same luck during this round. Devin Ryan had a late rail on course and Adrienne Sternlicht also had the same rail down and picked up a single time fault.
“Things happen so fast out there,” Ryan said. “I felt like I got there right; I felt like I stayed over him in the air. Maybe I just didn’t press him enough. I got the same question from the Chef d’Equipe Robert [Ridland], when I came out. He was like, ‘What do you think happened there?’ You know, when you’re out there, it’s every jump down, so you have to finish every jump. I don’t know if I didn’t just finish that jump enough. He jumped again super today. He was jumping really careful. He’s been in good form all week; it’s just not been my week.”
Laura Kraut and Zeremonie had a disappointing 8 fault round on Thursday. On Friday they were able to deliver a clear round and hold the position for team USA.
“She was incredible today,” said Kraut. “Believe it or not, I think, maybe yesterday I left her a bit too fresh. So today, you wouldn’t think it on the fourth day of extreme heat and jumping that she would still have bucks in her, but she did this morning. And I think I gave her a bit more exercise today, and she was just spot on.”
This meant that team USA was sitting on 16.59 faults and it was up to McLain Ward and Clinta. If they could go clear the would secure gold for the U.S. Unfortunately, Ward and Clinta had a rail midway through the course which meant they would be going to a jump-off for gold.
A nerve-wracking finish
This jump-off made WEG history. Both Ryan and von Eckermann jumped clear, while second in the order Baryard-Johnsson and Sternlicht each pulled a rail. Then Jönsson and Kraut followed with fast and clear rounds. Finally, Fredricson jumped clear so this meant the pressure was on Ward and Clinta once again. This time he was able to do it. McLain Ward and Clinta went clear with in 32.58 beating out Fredricson by two seconds, giving team USA the gold. The Swedish team took silver and Germany took bronze.
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