Werth most successful Olympic rider as Germany wins dressage
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Isabell Werth became the most successful rider at the Olympics as she helped the German dressage team to gold on Friday, reclaiming the title in an event that her country has historically dominated.
Germany has won eight of the past nine gold medals in the discipline, with its run interrupted by Britain in the 2012 London Games.
It was Werth's fifth gold medal in the event, tying compatriot and former Olympic champion Reiner Klimke. She now has nine Olympic medals in all.
Werth could also add an individual title to her haul on Monday, although she faces stiff competition in reigning champion Charlotte Dujardin. Her victory also moves her even with compatriot and former Olympic champion Reiner Klimke.
''It's great to have another gold medal of course, that's why we came here, to win. But to work with horses and to win with three different horses, that makes me really happy and proud, that's what I work for day by day.''
Werth, Kristina Broring-Sprehe, Dorothee Schneider and Sonke Rothenberger posted a score of 81.936 percent, while the British team finished with 78.595.
The United States was third with 76.667, with former hairdresser Laura Graves recording a personal best of 80.644 on Verdades in her first Olympic Games.
''The elusive 80 percent, finally we've captured it, it exists,'' Graves said. ''I knew it was going well. You just always hope your reflections match up with the judges. I was happy to see my teammates so happy and then to have a personal best and a score I've been reaching for was just icing on the cake.''
It ends a long wait for German-born Steffen Peters, who helped the U.S to bronze in 1996 but was a reserve when it repeated that feat in 2004.
''If you wanted to see a 52-year-old man act like a 10-year-old boy you should have seen me in the stands when Laura was coming down the center line,'' Peters said. ''I was crying my eyes out, it was just one of those absolutely amazing experiences.''
The results are calculated using the average of the three best riders' scores from each nation from Friday's Grand Prix Special as well as the previous day's Grand Prix.
''We were hoping and a little bit expecting we can go for the gold medal because I can't remember a German team that went to the Olympic Games where four horses could go over 80 percent,'' Werth said.
''So I was hoping that if there was maybe one horse that had problems that the other three are so strong that they could deal with the situation but all four horses were really good over three days and this was much more than we expected.''
Three of the top four finishers were German, with Britain's Dujardin posting the second highest score after an uncharacteristic error from her horse Valegro.
The individual Olympic champion still managed a score of 82.983, with Werth achieving 83.711.
The individual medals are awarded Monday after the Grand Prix Freestyle, where the top 18 riders from the first two grand prix pick their own routine to perform with music.
Carl Hester, who also trains the other riders on the British team, has a special plan to ensure Dujardin successfully defends her title.
''I'm taking her to Christ the Redeemer tomorrow to pray for Monday,'' he said.