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USA Equestrian

David O'Connor Is Named Equestrian Of The Year

The Olympic eventer is the first in the sport to take the title twice

After a remarkable year, David O'Connor, 41, of The Plains, VA, has been named as USA Equestrian's 2002 Equestrian of the Year. O'Connor is the first two-time winner of this award in the history of the sport. A stellar horseman, O'Connor was chosen from a group of eight of the country's most outstanding athletes that were already bestowed the title of Equestrians of Honor.

The eventer first won the award in 2000 largely for his individual gold medal winning performance at the Sydney Olympics, where he rode Custom Made, an Irish Thoroughbred gelding owned by Joe Zada. While at the games, O'Connor turned in the best eventing dressage score in Olympic history when he opened the individual competition with a score of 29.00 penalties. He was the first U.S. athlete to take the gold medal in the sport since 1984.

This past year has also brought significant achievements. His Olympic gold medal horse, Custom Made, carried him to victory once again at Fair Hill International. Before the competition, O'Connor announced the event would be the last for the 17 year-old prize-winning gelding. At Radnor Hunt International, he also won the USA National Two-Star Eventing Championship.

In addition, O'Connor distinguished himself in a team capacity. Riding Giltedge, an Irish Thoroughbred gelding owned by Jacqueline Mars, he led the team to gold at the World Equestrian Games in Spain.

The Equestrian of the Year award is presented to the individual who has "excelled above all others in equestrian competition for the current year, while demonstrating superior sportsmanship and dedication to the principles, vision, and mission of USA Equestrian." The winner is determined by vote of the general membership, USA Equestrian Board of Directors and equestrian media.

O'Connor was presented with the Robert P. Strub Trophy at the Pegasus Awards Dinner, January 17, 2003 during the USA Equestrian Annual Meeting at the Marriott Griffin Gate in Lexington, KY.

USA Equestrian Inc., as the National Equestrian Federation of the U.S., is the regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship sports of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, reining, show jumping, and vaulting, as well as 19 other breeds and disciplines of equestrian competition. As
the country's largest multi-breed organization, the Federation has over 80,000 members and recognizes more than 2,800 competitions nationwide each year. It governs all aspects of competition, including educating and licensing all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate at these shows.
The vision of USA Equestrian is to provide leadership for equestrian sport in the United States of America, promoting the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the Olympic Games, based on a foundation of fair, safe competition and the welfare of its horses, and embracing this vision, to be the best national equestrian federation in the world.


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