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Friday, August 27, 2004
Royal Kaliber diagnosed with strained tendon

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- American rider Chris Kappler won bronze in show jumping Friday, relieved not just to win a medal but to learn his horse -- which broke down on the course -- was not seriously hurt. Kappler's horse, Royal Kaliber, was taken from the Olympic arena in a trailer and examined at the onsite veterinarian clinic. Officials later said the horse, which suffered a strain injury to a front leg tendon during a timed jumpoff, would be fine. "I felt very close to a silver because he was jumping great," said Kappler of Pittstown, N.J., who was somber on the medals stand while awaiting word on his mount. "Then he seemed to land and take a funny step. He took another funny step after the next jump and I knew I had to pull up." Ireland's Cian O'Connor had a rail down in the first round with Waterford Crystal and was one of only two riders to jump clean in the second to win the gold. "I'm going to celebrate with a Guinness," O'Connor said. "The gold medal is very good for the country as a whole. My horse is very rideable. I was comfortable going into the last round." Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa won silver by default after Kappler pulled up. He had eight faults in the first round and jumped clean in the second. Pessoa had mixed feelings about the way he won his medal. "It's never nice to defeat an opponent in this way," he said. "Our horses are precious to us. Chris is a super rider, and the horse is very great. I had a poor first round and really got my act together in the second round." The individual show jumping event includes completing two courses, the second one shorter but higher than the first. A dropped rail or a refusal counts four faults, and exceeding the time limit also earns faults. McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., returned for the second round on his mare Sapphire after earning eight faults in the first. "She's been jumping very good," Ward said. "A little mistake here and there costs a lot at the Olympics. This is an incredible team to be part of." He had a bigger mistake in the second round when his bridle broke and he had to withdraw. Beezie Madden of Syracuse, N.Y., was the heroine of the team event, also called the Nation's Cup, earlier in the week when she and her young horse Authentic put in two clear rounds and led the Americans to a silver medal. But her hopes for an individual medal ended in the first round Friday, when she earned 12 faults. "We had a great day in the Nation's Cup, and that's what we came for," said Madden. "He's had a lot thrown at him this week. The Nation's Cup was exciting, and I'll never forget it." Earlier in the week, Germany won the team show jumping gold, while the United States took silver over Sweden in a timed jumpoff. In the other Olympic equestrian events, Americans took team bronze in dressage. They also won team bronze and individual silver in three-day eventing after the dust cleared from a series of medal reversals.