France bounces back to win show jumping gold; US second

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) France bounced back from a difficult week to claim its second team title in equestrian at the Rio Games, beating the United States to a gold medal in the show jumping Wednesday.

France's chances of claiming the title diminished last week when world No. 2 two Simon Delestre had to withdraw from the team after an injury to his horse, Hermes Ryan, in the stables at the Deodoro competition venue.

The team suffered a further blow when Penelope Leprevost fell in Sunday's first qualifier and was out of individual competition.

''We had really bad luck at the beginning of the week, but I think maybe it helped us to fight more and more,'' Kevin Staut said. ''Last week, it was unbelievable to think that we might get a medal, and for sure not the gold.

''But we have great players, great horses and we're really proud of this medal. The most important thing is the team. It's four riders and we need all four riders to win this medal. I'm really proud to be French, a rider and gold medal.''

Staut once again jumped a clear round, while teammates Roger-Yves Bost and Philippe Rozier picked up only a time penalty each.

With the top three scores counting, France knew it had won gold, and so Leprevost did not even have to jump.

France's eventing team also won gold last week.

It was France's second team show jumping title after winning at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal with a foursome that included Rozier's father, Jean-Marcel Rozier, who is in Rio.

''Now two gold medals in the family. It's unbelievable for me and my family,'' Philippe Rozier said.

France finished the two-round competition on three faults, two fewer than the U.S. team of Kent Farrington, Lucy Davis, McLain Ward and Elizabeth Madden.

''It was a little deflating to go in knowing that we could not beat France, because that was our goal,'' Ward said. ''But it was a brilliant team performance.''

The U.S. was hit by a late blow as it went down to three riders after Madden pulled out on Wednesday morning because of an injury to her horse Cortes `C'.

''We had a bit of a setback this morning not having Elizabeth,'' Ward said. ''We always put the horses first, so it was not correct to compete with him today.

''She has been our anchor for so long. It is a little unsettling when you lose her. But the team had to rally and it was a great performance.''

Germany beat Canada in a jump-off for bronze after both teams finished on a score of eight. Germany has won a medal in every equestrian competition in Rio de Janeiro.

Home-team favorites Brazil finished fifth after all three riders still in the competition had a single rail down.

Wednesday's competition also served as a third qualifier for Friday's individual medal round, in which all scores are wiped clear.

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