September 21, 2002 -- Four nations will be represented in
the Final Four as show jumping concludes the 2002 edition of the World
Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain.
When the top 25 riders had completed two rounds of show jumping, it was
Eric Navet of France, Peter Wylde of the United States, Helena Lundback
of Sweden, and Dermott Lennon of Ireland who stood in the top four
positions to advance to Sunday's Final Four.
1990 World Champion Navet, who led the French team to a gold medal on
Thursday, emerged as both the winner of Saturday's class as well as the
overall leader, accumulating only 6.29 faults over five rounds of
jumping with the 11-year-old selle francais stallion, Dollar du Murier.
"It's something really fantastic to be in this situation," said Navet,
who, 12 years after winning the World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden,
is making his second appearance in the final four. "To be here once is
unbelievable, it's difficult to believe that I can do it again. I hope
I enjoy it as much as I did in Stockholm!"
American Wylde finished second with 9.55 faults riding the 11-year-old
Holsteiner mare, Fein Cera.
"It's a lifetime dream to be in this situation," said Wylde, an
individual silver medallist at the 1999 Pan American Games. "My horse
is brave and gave me everything to be here today."
Becoming only the second woman in World Championship history to advance
to the Final Four, Lundback, who already has a team silver medal to her
credit, made the cut with her diminutive Swedish Warmblood mare, Utfors
Mynta, with a final total of 11.62. The only other woman to contest the
World Championship did so in 1986, when Canada's Gail Greenough stunned
the world by claiming victory in Aachen, Germany.
"It's a mix between being tremendously happy and being scared to death!"
exclaimed the 26-year-old Lundback, who recovered from an 8 fault score
in the opening round to post one of six clear rounds in the second.
Ireland, who had three riders in the top 25, has her hopes pinned on
Dermott Lennon and the Irish-bred Liscalgot, also an 11-year-old mare.
"I'm flabbergasted to be here, I've looked forward to it all year!" said
Lennon, who qualified on a total of 13.16 faults.
In an exceptional format that tests skill and horsemanship, the four
remaining riders will ride each of the four horses over the same course.
The World Equestrian Games, which sees seven equestrian disciplines --
dressage, driving, endurance, reining, show jumping, three day eventing
and vaulting, holding their respective World Championships, are held
every four years opposite the Olympic Games.