Friday, August 27, 2004

McDonald wins bronze at Olympics in Athens

Hailey equestrian finishes fourth in individual dressage event

Express Staff Writer

Debbie McDonald and Brentina performed with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in 2003 in Hailey. Photo by David N. Seelig

While she is not able to celebrate her birthday today with an individual medal, equestrian Debbie McDonald did receive the bounty of a bronze medallion in team dressage at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

In the Grand Prix team dressage event, McDonald posted the American team?s highest score to propel the United States to a bronze medal behind Ger-many and Spain.

A resident rider at River Grove Farm in Hailey, McDonald finished fourth in the individual dressage event, which culminated with a Grand Prix Freestyle on Wednesday.

?She had a couple of bobbles. It was still a great test, but to medal she needed to be flawless,? Debbie?s stepdaughter, Kim McDonald Koch, remarked.

The individual dressage test consists of three phases: the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle, in which riders perform a choreo-graphed routine to music.

In fifth place after the Grand Prix, McDonald on Brentina, owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas of River Grove Farm, moved up to fourth place after the Grand Prix Special.

Defending gold medalist Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands posted the highest score in Wednesday?s musical freestyle to capture her second con-secutive gold medal and raise her Olympic medal count to six all-time.

The silver medal went to Ulla Salzgeber of Germany. Bronze medalist Beatriz Ferrer-Salat of Spain edged McDonald by 1.014 points.

McDonald-Koch remarked, ?She was thrilled to represent the country and compete on that level. She felt it was a real honor to be there.?

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