Pan American Games open today in the City of Splendor

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July 13 marks the start of opening ceremonies for the Pan American Games, held this year in Rio de Janeiro. Over the course of 16 days, 5,662 athletes from 42 countries in the Americas will be after their best results on the courts, tracks, fields and swimming pools–as well as the show jumping arena, dressage court and cross-country course.

Equestrian, one of 34 sports at the Pan American Games, will see approximately 100 horse and rider combinations from 18 countries competing for team and individual medals in the Olympic disciplines of showjumping, dressage and eventing. Much more than medals are 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 of the Games’ 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 gets under way on July 14, with the team dressage. Dressage competition finishes on July 18 with the Individual medal final. Eventing will run from July 20 to 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.

The Pan American Games are a continental version of the Olympic Games, which includes both Olympic sports and other disciplines suggested by the competition organization and approved by Pan American Games officials. Held every four years, always one year prior to the Summer Olympic Games, the first Pan American Games were held in 1951 in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina.

For more than 50 years, the Pan American Games have been held continuously and have been in numerous cities throughout the American continent, from as far North as Winnipeg (Canada), host of two Pan American Games, in 1967 and 1999, to the extreme South, in Mar Del Plata (Argentina), which hosted the Games in 1995. The competition also took place in Mexico City (Mexico), Chicago (United States), Cáli (Colombia), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Caracas (Venezuela), Indianapolis (United States), Havana (Cuba), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and São Paulo (Brazil).

Gradually, the Pan American Games gained importance and significance. In less than a century the number of countries, athletes and disciplines has doubled, and the Pan American Games have become one of the leading competitions in the international sport calendar.

Below is a list of equestrian teams representing the United States at the Games. For more information, visit www.rio2007.org.br.

Dressage
Christopher Hickey and Regent, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
Katherine Poulin-Nesff and Brilliant Too, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross
Susan Dutta and Pik L, a 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion

Eventing
Stephen Bradley and a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding
Mara Dean and a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
Phillip Dutton and Connaught, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
Gina Miles and McKinlaigh, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
Bonnie Mosser and Merloch, a 10-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred-cross gelding
Karen O’Connor and Theodore O’Connor, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred-cross gelding

Show jumping
Lauren Hough and Casadora, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood
Cara Raether and Ublesco, a 10-year-old stallion
Todd Minikus and Pavarotti. a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
Laura Chapot and Little Big Man, a 13-year-old KWPN Dutch gelding

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