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Thursday, February 02, 2012

For an athlete, there’s no better feeling in the world than standing atop the podium as your national anthem plays. Just ask Jessica Phoenix.
The Wilfrid resident – and her horse, Pavarotti, returned home from the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in October with a pair of medals around her neck after winning the gold medal in eventing and helping lead Canada’s team to Silver. “It was an unbelievable feeling to be at the top of the podium,” Ms Phoenix said in an interview Tuesday. “It was such a privilege to ride for my country and help Canada win the silver medal. My top priority is putting on the best performance I can for the team”.
She led the three-phase eventing competition from start to finish. On the opening day, she earned a score of 43.90 penalty points in the opening phase of dressage.
No penalty points were added to her score the next day, as she completed the cross-country portion with no jumping faults and stopped the clock two seconds under the optimum time allowed of nine minutes and 30 seconds. In the final phase of show jumping, Ms Phoenix jumped clear to lead Canada to the team silver before returning to the stadium to once again jump clear and claim the individual gold medal.
It marks just the second time that a Canadian has claimed the individual gold medal in eventing in the history of the Pan Am Games.
“It reflects many years of hard work, dedication and perseverance,” Ms Phoenix said. “And it also reflects how much support I have around me. I never could have done this alone.” It was the second time Ms Phoenix has competed at the Pan Am Games, following a 12th-place individual finish in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007.
She had been named to the Canadian eventing team for the 2008 Summer Games, Ms Phoenix was forced to withdraw after her horse, Exploring, suffered an injury just weeks before they were scheduled to depart for Beijing.
Barring any unforeseen injury, she’s a virtual lock to be named to Team Canada at the 2012 Games in London.


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