Rio Prepares to Welcome the Americas
By Malina Gueorguiev
The Opening Ceremonies of the XV Pan American Games will take place in the Maracaña Stadium in downtown Rio de Janeiro on July 13. An estimated 95,000 spectators will welcome more than 5,500 athletes from the 42 countries of North, Central and South America. Equestrian, one of 34 sports at these Games, will take place at the National Equestrian Center at the Deodoro Military Club, 30 kilometres north of the Pan American Village. Approximately 100 horse-and-rider combinations from 18 countries will compete for team and individual medals in the Olympic disciplines of jumping, dressage and eventing. Much more than medals is at stake for the countries not yet qualified to send teams to the 2008 Olympics. Team USA has qualified for the equestrian competition in all three disciplines, thanks to its teams’ performances at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games. Olympic team berths will be awarded to the top-finishing countries other than the USA at the Pan Am Games: three in jumping, and two each in dressage and eventing. An additional five individual Olympic spots (one North American and four Central or South Americans) will be earned in jumping.
Pan American equestrian competition will get under way on the first day of the Games, July 14, with team dressage. The dressage finishes on July 18 with the individual medal final. Eventing will run from July 20-22, with team and individual medals to be awarded on the 22nd. Jumping will wrap up equestrian competition, starting on July 26 and finishing with the individual medal final on the last day of the Pan Am Games, Sunday, July 29.
This will be the first Pan Am Games at which the dressage teams will consist of only three members, a change that reflects the new format being introduced at the 2008 Olympics. Teams are permitted to send a travelling reserve horse and rider that can be substituted as late as one hour before the horse being substituted is scheduled to compete in the team test. In order to qualify for a team medal, all three members must complete the Prix St. Georges test, which comprises the team competition. The top 25 horses from the team test will proceed to the Intermediaire I test for individual competition. The top fifteen from that competition go on to the individual final, the Intermediaire Freestyle. Final individual placings are calculated by combining the results of the two individual tests. Eight teams in total will compete for the medals in Rio. The defending Gold medal team from the U.S. will face challenges from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.
Three-day eventing at the Pan Am Games takes place at the three-star level, and teams consist of four members. Each country is also entitled to enter up to two individual competitors. The dressage phase will take place on the first day, with the cross-country and jumping following on the subsequent two days. The cross-country course in Rio, designed by Sue Benson of Great Britain, was recently completed and has not yet been used in competition. Only five full teams will compete at these Pan Am Games, with the U.S. defending its title against Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Chile.
Jumping will have the highest number of competitors of all three disciplines at these Games; ten teams are entered, as well as an additional ten individuals from six countries. Once again, the U.S. is the team to beat, having taken Team Gold in Santo Domingo in 2003. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela will vie for medals against the Americans. Teams consist of four members, with a travelling reserve permitted. Team competition will take place over two rounds, a Table C speed class on Day One, followed by a two-round Table A on the second day. The maximum height of obstacles in the team final is 1.5 meters. The individual final, which will have obstacles up t