It was a perfect star spangled afternoon in the Internationale Arena at the Palm Beach Polo and Equestrian Club as Silver turned to Gold when the 2004 Olympic Team Gold medals were awarded to the United States Show Jumping Team. The 2004 Athens Olympic team of Peter Wylde, residing in Maastricht, The Netherlands; McLain Ward of Brewster, NY; Chris Kappler of Pittstown, NJ; and Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, were awarded their long-awaited Team Gold medals and Chris Kappler was officially presented with his Olympic Individual Silver medal.
PHOTO CREDIT: McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Chris Kappler, Peter Wylde members of the 2004 Gold Medal Olympic Team PHOTO BY: Kenneth Braddick of HorseSport USA
The presentation began as champion combined driver Jimmy Fairclough drove Jane Clark’s team of four beautifully matched horses pulling a carriage carrying USEF President David O’Conner, who won the Olympic Individual Gold medal in three-day eventing at the 2000 Sydney Games; John Long, USEF Chief Executive Officer; and retired USEF Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe Frank Chapot, who guided both the Gold medal-winning 1984 and 2004 teams.
Among those in the center ring to honor the new Gold medal winners were Kim Severson, the Individual Silver medalist and Bronze Team medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics; Alison Firestone, the alternate for the 2004 team; Jim Wolf, Executive Director of Sports Programs and Chef de Mission for the entire team in Athens; Sally Ike, Managing Director of Show Jumping Programs; Kate Huber, Director of Show Jumping/High-Performance; Tim Ober, the USEF veterinarian for the team in Athens; and Thomas Wenham, Mayor of Wellington.
In the Olympic tradition, bouquets of flowers were presented to the medalists, to Frank Chapot and to Alison Firestone.
Highlighting the ceremony were members of the 1984 team, Conrad Homfeld, Joe Fargis, and Leslie Howard, who along with David O’Connor, presented the medals to the stars of 2004, proudly placing the Gold medals around the necks of Wylde, Madden, Ward and Kappler. Homfeld presented both the Individual Silver and Team Gold to Kappler. Many years before, Homfeld had given his red USA team coat to a then teenage Kappler, and it was this coat that Kappler wore in the Athens games.
The owners of the 2004 Olympic horses received a rousing round of applause, and they are as follows:
- Authentic, ridden by Beezie Madden, who was owned by Elizabeth Busch Burke, John Madden Sales, Barbara and Steffen Wolff, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Patton, Jeremy Jacobs and Chandi Duke Heffner.
- Fein Cera, ridden by Peter Wylde and owned by Ann Meyer’s and Sarah Willeman’s Turnabout Farm.
- Sapphire, ridden by McLain Ward and owned by the Double H Farm of Mr. and Mrs. Hunter Harrison.
- Royal Kaliber, ridden by Chris Kappler and owned by the Kapplers and the Kamine Family.
After the ceremony, Wylde, who competes in Europe and flew in specifically for the medal event, enjoyed lunch ringside watching his former Athens teammates compete in the day's marquee event, the Gold Coast Classic, a three-star grand prix, and he wore the Gold medal around his neck all afternoon. When complimented that Gold was definitely his color, a wide grin crossed his face. Later Wylde and other medal winners signed autographs for fans, with him lingering afterwards to pose for pictures with youngsters and Girl Scouts selling cookies at the front gate. He generously shared with the young fans the opportunity to hold his Gold medal and chatted about Olympic dreams.
Maria Partlow - USEF