Even though the American's couldn't manage to keep the big sticks in the cups, even though U.S. team medal hopes were dashed, it was very hard not to get caught up in the unabashed, ecsastic joy of over 20,000 people whom I was packed into a grand Olympic stadium with today.
So, I'll choose to look at this day with the glass-half-full. I witnessed history. I witnessed my favorite sport in a shining, glorious moment. I was immersed in more happy people than I have ever been, or ever will be for some time to come. Even the bossy Olympic stadium volunteers relented for a moment (just a moment) from telling me where to go and how quickly while the medals were hung around the winners' necks. Great Britain hasn't won a Gold Medal for 60 years. Saudi Arabia has never won an Olympic Team Medal, in any sport. And looking at the faces of those riders, gleeful with relief, excitement and happiness was a privilege.
This was my day in pictures, from beginning to end. It doesn't begin to capture all that happened or all I saw, but the following are the moments that I will remember, as I ran into the stadium, out of it, and back in again, as I crowded in with my recorder in hand while riders braved the press line, and when I blended in with thousands of British citizens in celebration who are, no doubt, partying hard tonight.
A full two hours before the competition began, Team Kessler was studying, discussing, and studying the course some more. From left, Henri Prudent, Katie Prudent, George Morris, Reed Kessler.
Ian Millar walked much of the course solo. He would go on to have one down with Star Power.
2004 Athens Olympic Team Gold Medalist Peter Wylde has been at the Games this week in the role of coach for Japanese rider Taizo Sugitani. Taizo is qualified for Wednesday's Individual Final.
In his first Olympics, Daniel Bluman of Colombia (yellow jacket) has ridden fantastically every day and sits well within the Individual standings in 12th place. He rides as an individual and is coached by Canadian Eric Lamaze (red jacket.)
Beezie Madden has walked the course with husband John Madden every day this week.
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum discusses strategy with husband Markus Beerbaum. Meredith went on to have a fantastic round.
Tiffany Foster was present for every Canadian ride today, and participated in the coursewalk with head held high after her controverial elimination from the Games
The warmup rings lie just behind the main stadium, providing an excellent birds eye view of the action from the very top of the stadium.
Speaking of Team Canada, they gathered en masse to support Jill Henselwood and George, who rode at the top of the order and had two down. Canada finished fifth in the Team Final.
As mentioned, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum rode a stellar round with Bella Donna, going clear with one time fault. She will compete for Individual medals on Wednesday.
Meredith was so thrilled with the mare, it was great to see. She galloped around in a big circle giving Bella Donna lots of pats and hugs before she left the ring.
Wondering if the riders got VIP treatment? They did, but some of them chose to stand in line for lunch with the rest of the world.
As the competition narrowed down to a jumpoff, riders, grooms, coaches and officials gathered tightly around a television screen next to the warm up area, where they nervously kept track of the goings on inside the stadium.
Thankfully, we were spared another rainstorm today, but the wind did kick up a lot. The top half of this gate at fence 12 kept blowing down, until finally this man was made to hold it up until just the last minute before a rider turned toward it. Then, he strode back to the fence and out of the way. Horses' hooves knocked this fence down many times today as well.
This was McLain giving an interview in the press line -yesterday.- Today he was a no show, a move that was tsk tsk-ed upon by the journalists who waited for him for quite a long while. When McLain has a bad round, he's not the chattiest. I know, shocker.
It's ok. We still love McLain, and we still love Antares F. A lot.
This very lucky shot from afar caught Rich Fellers and Flexible in perfect form, warming up over a massive oxer in the warmup ring.
Can't wait to see them back on Wednesday for the Individual Final.
Saudi Arabia had an amazing day, winning the Team Bronze. Say what you will about the team, but when the riders talked to the press, they were unabashadly excited and passionate about the events unfolding. And they always thanked their horses.
But great Britain simply owned it. Here Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos fly in the jumpoff.
The Brits were beside themselves, either with nerves or with happiness, depending on the moment.
The feeling here was definitely nerves, as Peter Charles and Vindicat closed in on the final jump in the jumpoff, about the clinch the Team Gold for Great Britain.
He did it. And the cheers were deafening.
The British team rushed into the arena in a spontanious victory dance. I love Nick Skelton in the background here, and the woman just behind him, both with fists pumping the air.
And so the British flag was raised....
Team Great Britain basked in the glory of the moment....
And they all lined up before one highly anticipated victory gallop.
Hello Sanctos was REALLY excited. Don't worry, Scott brought him down and rode on.
I liked what Scott said later the best: "This is the best day of my life. This is the best day of all our lives."
Peter Charles' kids (?) spent the press conference peeking around the corner at all the action.
I think Scott was right. It really was the best day of their lives. Go Great Britain!