Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers, Georgia
Date Started: July 31, 1996
Date Finished: August 1, 1996
Format: Two rounds. Four rider teams. Best three scores in each round determined team total. Separate competition.
There were two rounds, with four riders on each team, the top three scores in each round to count. Linda Allen designed the courses, the first woman to do so at the Olympics.
The German team took advantage of the scoring to win a gold medal with the lowest score ever in team jumping, with only 1.75 faults. In the first round rider Franke Sloothaak fell and cut his wrist so badly that he needed stitches, but his round of 60.25 faults was thrown out, giving the team only 0.75 faults for the round. In the second round, Sloothaak was able to compete and rode cleanly, but Lars Nieberg had 12.00 faults. However, Nieberg’s score did not matter as the other three riders had only a total of 1 fault in the round, bringing the gold medal quite easily over the United States. Germany was led by Ludger Beerbaum and [Ulrich Kirchhoff], the individual gold medalists in 1992 and 1996, respectively.
The United States was well ahead of third-placed Brazil to win the silver medal. One rider on the US team, Michael Matz, gained fame outside of equestrian sport both well before and after the Atlanta Olympics. In 1989, Matz was aboard United Airline flight 232 when it crashed in a cornfield near the Sioux City, Iowa airport. Matz survived the burning crash, but returned to the wreckage to rescue two small children who had not escaped. They also survived thanks to Matz’s heroics. In 1998 Matz turned to thoroughbred training and in 2006 trained Barbaro, a horse that won the Kentucky Derby in dominant fashion and was considered a threat to win the Triple Crown. However, in the opening strides of the next race, the Preakness, Barbaro broke down, shattering a foreleg. He underwent multiple surgeries but was eventually put down in early 2007.