Laura Graves Brings The U.S.A. to Bronze in the Dressage Grand Prix Special
In August’s Grand Prix Special at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the U.S. dressage team ended up winning the bronze title, thanks to Laura Graves and her horse Diddy. The fate of the team fell into the hands of Graves and Diddy when The U.S. had to battle the Dutch for bronze. This spectacular performance landed Graves the number 5 spot on the individual leaderboard. Graves and Diddy were one of the five horse and rider combinations that scored higher than 80 on their dressage performance.
At the start of the Grand Prix Special, the U.S. team held the bronze position over the Dutch by less than one percent. The Dutch fought back and earned an average of 74.991. They were able to hold this over the U.S. until Laura Graves and Diddy’s performance, which brought the U.S. team’s 73.984 average up to a 76.393 average.
The U.S. stayed in reach of the bronze position when Allison Brock and Steffen Peters delivered topnotch performances. They both demonstrated solid canter work and high piaffe passage marks. Kasey Perry-Glass’s score was 73.235, not quite making it to the 74 mark that she needed to solidify the U.S.A’s bronze position. At this point, Graves needed to step up to the plate and deliver a performance that would help the U.S. surpass the Dutch in the bronze race. The team was relying on Graves and her horse Diddy, and they certainly pulled through.
For years, Graves has dreamed of standing on the Olympic podium. It was a long journey to build the bond with her horse that she has now. There was a time Diddy seemed too unruly to compete. But with a whole lot of effort and proper training, Diddy has become a medal-winning horse.
In the Grand Prix Special, Germany was able to gain its 12th golden title. Germany arrived in Rio ready to take back the gold medal. In London’s 2012 games, Great Britain took the victory from Germany, and Germany knew that in Rio, they could not accept defeat.
The German team displayed dominance from the start of the Grand Prix Special. While the individual scores of all of the German riders qualified for the freestyle round, only three were allowed to compete in the individual freestyle. Those three were Kristina Broring-Sprehe, Dorothee Schneider and Isabel Werth, who battled against reigning gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain.
While these three German players as well as the U.S.A.’s Laura Graves hoped to beat Dujardin in the individual freestyle final, none were able to as Dujardin won gold once again. Werth got the silver and Broring-Sprehe received bronze. Laura Graves came in fourth. While Graves was not able to medal in the individual freestyle final, she has a lot to be proud of. This is just her first Olympics and the beginning of a successful career as an Olympian.