Olympic Dressage Dominated by Women Again, Leads 3 Equestrian Disciplines Since 1984
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Aug. 23, 2016
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Dressage was the leader of the three Olympic equestrian disciplines for women earning the most individual medals in Rio de Janeiro in the only sport on the Games program where males and females compete as equals.
Of the total of 15 medals up for grabs in Olympic dressage at Rio women were awarded the individual gold, silver and bronze while men took all three individual medals in jumping and eventing.
Eight of the 12 medals in dressage team competitions went to women, four to men. Five went to German females–including one team gold and individual silver to Isabell Werth and a team gold and individual bronze to Kristina Bröring-Sprehe while Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain took team silver and individual gold.
In eventing, men won all three individual medals and nine of the 12 team medals while in jumping all three individual medals went to men as did eight of the 12 team medals.
Overall, the Rio Olympics featured 169 events for men and 137 for women, meaning that men received more than 55 per cent of the gold, silver and bronze medals.
IOC chief spokesman Mark Adams said Rio had “a better gender balance even than London” where 44 per cent of athletes were women. Every nation has now sent female athletes to the Games.
Several Olympic sports feature coed teams, but only equestrian pits individual males against females.
Of the 81 total individual equestrian medals awarded since 1984, men have won 43 (53.1 per cent) and women 38 (46.9 per cent).
For the 27 individual medals awarded in each of the three equestrian disciplines 24 went to women and three to men in dressage, 11 women and 16 men in eventing and three women and 24 men in jumping, the exact opposite of dressage.
The last time a male won an Olympic individual dressage medal was Sven Rothenberger of the Netherlands, bronze in Atlanta in 1996, and before that Klaus Balkenhol of Germany, bronze in Barcelona in 1992 and Reiner Klimke, gold in Los Angeles in 1984.
Since 1984, Germany has dominated dressage, winning 13 of the 27 individual medals, the Netherlands six, Great Britain three, Switzerland two and Denmark, France and Spain one each.
In jumping, the United States has six individual medals, Germany and the Netherlands four each, Switzerland three, France, Canada and Sweden two each and Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Ireland and Great Britain one each.
For eventing, Great Britain, New Zealand and United States have each won six individual medals, Germany five, Australia two and France and Sweden one each.
The 1984 Olympics were chosen arbitrarily for this comparison, partly because results of the 1980 Olympics were skewed as so many nations boycotted the Games; the Cold War; two world wars and extensive military participation in equestrian in early years of the Olympics in which equestrian has been included for 104 years.
Team competitions by numbers do not reflect the dominance of women in equestrian sports overall since Rio this year was only the second Games this century–the other being Sydney in 2000–where all three disciplines were awarded equal number of team medals. In 2008 and 2012, only three team medals were issued in dressage while five were given out to eventing in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Jumping has remained steady with four team medals. Dressage teams also were awarded only three medals each in Los Angeles in 1984.