Tiffany Foster, who honed her equestrian show jumping craft at Thunderbird Show Park, did herself and Canada proud at the Rio Olympics team competition.
In a dramatic end to the Aug. 17 event, the Canadian show jumping team forced a jump-off with Germany for the bronze medal but were edged into fourth place.
France claimed gold for the first time in 40 years on a team score of three faults. Silver went to the U.S. on five faults. Canada (consisting of Foster, Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont., Amy Millar of Perth, Ont., and Yann Candele of Caledon, Ont.) was tied with Germany at eight faults at the end of the final team round, but Germany claimed the podium after three consecutive clear rounds in the resulting jump-off.
Foster, 32 and Tripple X III, a 14-year-old Anglo European stallion, had a quick and clear round to put a zero on the board for Canada.
“My horse is flying right now and he’s jumping unbelievable,” said Foster, who also completed the first three qualifying rounds on eight faults to secure her place in the individual final.
“I think I went as fast as I could go at this height, without making a huge risk, because I knew we needed a clear. It’s too bad though, because we were so close to a medal, but you know if you are going up against Germany for a medal, you are in good shape.”
Foster’s ties to Thunderbird Show Park and Langley are very strong. She moved to Langley with her mom and sister when she was 14, and worked for Brent and Laura Balisky from the ages of 13 to 21.
She left in 2005 to work for Lamaze and Torrey Pines Stable and has been back at Thunderbird three times since then to compete – most recently a couple of months ago.
Meanwhile, this marks Foster’s second go-round at the Olympic Games.
She was on the Canadian team in London but was disqualified after the first round of competition due to a somewhat controversial hypersensitivity charge against her horse Victor.
Before heading to Rio, Foster said she was “extra thrilled to be trying again this time around.”
“Of course, representing your country at the Olympic Games is the dream for any athlete and this is something we have been working towards for the last four years,” Foster said.
She said her goal going into Rio was to post good scores for the team.
“If we make it to the individual final that will just be an added bonus,” Foster said, before the games. “The team is our main objective.”
Most importantly, Foster thanked Andy and Carlene Ziegler, “because without them providing these incredible horses I would just be watching from home.”
She also praised Lamaze, her Olympic teammate whom she says has been a “huge influence” on her.
“Then there are tons of other people that have supported me along the way but that list would get quite long,” Foster said.
Reflecting on her most recent visit to Thunderbird for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup June 3 and $129,500 Nations Week Finale Grand Prix June 5, Foster said she had a great time.
“It was so nice to see all my old friends and to feel how everyone was really behind me in full support,” Foster said. “It was also an interesting dynamic to observe how much Tbird has grown and evolved to a world-class facility, that is able to host a top level competition, and to be able to come back and have really grown up myself as a rider. I think we are doing all right coming out of the [Pacific] Northwest.”
– Files from Equestrian Canada