Canada wins silver medal in team jumping
Millar finally earns a medal, on In Style, in 9th Olympic appearance
Canada earned a silver in the team jumping competition on Day 10 at the Olympic Games, giving veteran rider Ian Millar his first medal in his ninth Olympic appearance.
Canada was tied with the United States with 20 penalty points at the Hong Kong equestrian venue, but three American riders went through the course perfectly in a jump-off.
Millar, 61, led Canada into the tiebreaker round with a perfect ride on In Style. Millar was due third in the jump-off, but the Americans ensured he didn't have a chance to go again.
"The support we've had all year, everybody's recognized that we had a shot at this thing, such enthusiasm, such support, and that's a big motivator to us," Millar told CBC Sports. "We all say thank you very much to those who support it and those who believe in us."
Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ont., and Eric Lamaze of Schombeg, Ont., also competed for Canada. Henselwood rode Special Ed, with Lamaze on Hickstead.
Mac Cone of King City, Ont., couldn't compete on Monday due to an injury suffered by horse Ole in the previous round on Sunday. That meant Canada had to keep the scores of all three riders, whereas other teams could drop their lowest of four scores.
"The second round tonight, the jump-off strategy, they had us right where they wanted us because they had a dropped score and we didn't have one, so it was tough," said Millar. "But I mean, what a team."
He was competing in Beijing following the death of his wife, Lynn, of cancer earlier this year.
"I had an angel riding with me, that's all I can say," said a teary Millar.
Millar, of Perth, Ont., had been part of Canadian teams that placed fourth on two occasions – 1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul.
"I remember back in the early '70s when I had a disastrous Grand Prix, my wife, Lynn, said to me, 'Don't worry, you're going to be a late bloomer.' That's what she said to me and I've always held that thought," said Millar. "And so the Olympics don't go well and I'd say, 'Lynn said I'm a late bloomer. I'll go to the next one.'
"And sure enough, guess what happened? I bloomed."
Lamaze overcomes positive drug tests
Lamaze also had a long road to a first medal, missing both the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics due to positive drug tests.
"It's such a great riding team filled with such great riders; it's a great moment," said an emotional Lamaze.
Cone, who turns 56 later this month, once rode for the U.S. at the Olympics before moving to Canada.
"It's been a long haul," said Cone. "We're not the youngest bunch and we've waited a long time for this."
It was the first medal in equestrian in 32 years for Canada.
Michel Vaillancourt won silver in individual jumping at the Montreal Olympics.
James Elder, James Day and Thomas Gayford won gold for Canada in team jumping in Mexico City in 1968.
U.S. takes gold
McLain Ward, Laura Kraut and Will Simpson rode cleanly to ensure the U.S. repeated as gold-medal winners Monday. Ward and Beezie Madden were returnees from the Athens Games.
Norway won the bronze medal with 27 points.
In individual jumping competition, Lamaze incurred four penalties to slip back into a second-place tie. The Canadian was tied for first after Sunday's round.
Lamaze and Ward are tied with Jos Lansink of Belgium and Edwina Alexander of Australia after the third round. Tony Andre Hansen of Norway leads with three penalties.
"Unfortunately, he [Hickstead] had four faults today, but he's jumped so many clear rounds," said Lamaze. "We're all in the final and we're all so excited, I can't express the moment."
Millar is tied for eighth with eight penalties, while Henselwood is 26th.
Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, the 2004 Olympic winner in the event, is seventh.
Medals will be handed out in individual jumping on Thursday.
With files from the Canadian Press