Guadalajara, Mexico – Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, ON, claimed the Individual Gold medal and led Canada to Team Silver in Eventing at the XVI Pan American Games on Sunday, October 23, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Phoenix, 28, led the three-phase Eventing competition from start to finish.
On Friday, Phoenix earned a score of 43.90 penalty points in the opening phase of dressage. On Saturday, Phoenix added nothing to her score, completing the cross-country with no jumping faults and stopping the clock two seconds under the optimum time allowed of nine minutes and 30 seconds. In Sunday’s final phase of show jumping, Phoenix jumped clear to lead Canada to the Team Silver before returning to the stadium at Guadalajara’s Club Hípica to once again jump clear and claim the Individual Gold medal.
“This seems surreal,” said Phoenix, smiling from ear to ear. “This is a dream come true. None of us would be here without the team of people that we have behind us, from our coaches to our support staff to our families at home who are probably both cheering and crying right now.”
Phoenix’s partner is Pavarotti, a nine-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Don J. Good of New Hamburg, ON, who was in Guadalajara to witness the gold medal victory. “I have to thank Don Good,” said Phoenix. “I love this horse, and I am so excited for his future.”
While Phoenix won the Individual Gold with a final score of 43.90, Hannah Sue Burnett of the United States riding Harbour Pilot took Individual Silver with 45.20 while Buck Davidson, also of the United States, had a final score of 48.90 riding Absolute Liberty for the Individual Bronze.
Phoenix’s win marked only the second Individual Gold medal in eventing for Canada in Pan Am Championship history. At the 1991 Pan American Championship held in Atlanta, Nick-Holmes Smith won the Individual Gold riding Ruderpest.
With her flawless performance, Phoenix led her Canadian teammates to the Team Silver. Standing alongside Phoenix on the podium were James Atkinson of Mountain Road, MB, Hawley Bennett-Awad of Langley, BC, Rebecca Howard of Salmon Arm, BC, and Selena O’Hanlon of Elgin, ON. As only the top three scores count towards the final team placing, Phoenix’s score of 43.90 was added to the 62.90 posted by Howard riding Roquefort and 65.70 posted by Atkinson and Gustav, giving Canada a team score of 172.50. The United States claimed the Team Gold with a final score of 138.60 while Brazil earned Team Bronze with 209.80.
“The biggest honour is riding for your country,” said Phoenix. “When you are riding for your team, there is a lot of pressure. It is a different mindset when the team competition is done and you move into the individual.”
Following the first round of show jumping competition to determine the team medals, the top 25 riders in the individual standings moved forward a second show jumping round to decide the individual medals. Only three riders per nation may contest the individual final, meaning that Selena O’Hanlon, ranked 18th with John Rumble’s Foxwood High, and Hawley Bennett, ranked 19th with Five O’Clock Somewhere owned by Sue Church and Kimberly Barron, did not return for the individual final.
Atkinson, 34, produced a clear round in the individual final riding Gustav, a 12-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding owned by Carolyn Hoffos, to finish seventh individually. Howard, 32, also jumped clear with Roquefort, a 13-year-old Dutch/Thoroughbred gelding, to place sixth overall.
“I was thrilled with my horse and I am so proud of our team,” said Howard whose owners, Jim and Bernadette Cogdell of The Fork Stables, were on hand to witness their horse’s performance. “We feel so comfortable with each other and we get along so well that the team work just gets stronger and stronger. This is my first medal, and now I am even more hungry to keep improving and continue adding to my collection.”
The Canadian Eventing Team trains under the leadership of International Technical Advisor David O’Connor.
“We came here to compete at the best level that we could,” said O’Connor, the 2000 Olympic individual gold medalist for the United States. “Congratulations to the Americans, they had real camaraderie that showed. We had the same type of feeling with the camaraderie. We have to thank all of the people who got us here. There are countless hours put in by hundreds of people. You don’t get here alone. It is a great honour for everyone to be here, and there were a lot of people behind us that allowed us to be standing on that podium.
“The Mexican hospitality and what they have done here has been exceptional,” continued O’Connor. “The Mexican Federation deserves a huge round of applause from all of us.”
The Canadian Eventing Team was supported throughout the Pan American Games by Team Chef d’équipe Graeme Thom, stable manager Debbie Furnas, team veterinarian Dr. Christiana Ober, team farrier Randy Pawlak, and team manager Fleur Tipton. The Canadian Equestrian Team is assisted at the Pan American Games by Team Leader Kerri McGregor of Newmarket, ON, and Assistant Team Leader Tina Collins of Loretto, ON.
The Canadian Eventing Committee is grateful to Own the Podium, Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee and all of its sponsors, supporters, suppliers and friends for their continued support of the Canadian Eventing Team in its quest for excellence.
Pan American Games Eventing – Final Team Results
USA (138.60): Michael Pollard/Schoensgreen Hanni (44.50); Hannah Burnett/Harbour Pilot (45.20); Bruce Davidson Jr./Absolute Liberty (48.90); Shannon Lilley/Ballingowan Pizazz (49.30); Lynn Symansky/Donner (52.20)
Canada (172.50): Jessica Phoenix/Pavarotti (43.90); Rebecca Howard/Roquefort (62.90); James Atkinson/Gustav (65.70); Selena O’Hanlon/Foxwood High (79.20); Hawley Bennett-Awad/Five O’Clock Somewhere (79.60)
Brazil (209.80): Serguei Fofanoff/Barbara TW (61.80); Marcio Jorge/Josephine MCJ (66.80); Jesper Martendal/Land Jimmy (81.20); Marcelo Tosi/Eleda All Black (94.30); Ruy Fonseca/Tom Bombadill Too (Eliminated)
Pan American Games Eventing – Final Individual Results
Gold Jessica Phoenix Uxbridge, ON Pavarotti 43.90
Silver Hannah Burnett United States Harbour Pilot 45.20
Bronze Bruce Davidson Jr. United States Absolute Liberty 48.90
4. Michael Pollard United States Schoensgreen Hanni 52.50
5. Elena Ceballo Venezuela Nounours de Moulin 56.90
6. Rebecca Howard Salmon Arm, BC Roquefort 62.90
7. James Atkinson Mountain Road, MB Gustav 65.70
8. Rigoberto Aldana Guatemala Durango 71.00
9. Marcio Jorge Brazil Josephine MCJ 71.80
10. Carlos Francisco Lobos Chile Ranco 72.60
Photos: Jessica Phoenix of Uxbridge, ON, and Pavarotti won the Individual Gold medal in Eventing at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico; The Canadian Eventing Team won the Silver medal at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. From left to right: Hawley Bennett-Awad, Jessica Phoenix, James Atkinson, Rebecca Howard and Selena O’Hanlon. Photo Credits – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com