Cannington athlete leads Equestrian team to Tokyo; Beaverton softball player hopes veteran leadership leads to medal

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Published July 13, 2021 at 5:40 pm


Durham Region Olympic Profile #7

Jessica Phoenix, Canada’s most decorated eventer with six medals from major Games to her name, and her partner Pavarotti lead a (mostly) inexperienced Canadian Equestrian team into the Tokyo Olympics.

Phoenix, who will be competing in her third Olympic Games, and Pavarotti helped Canada to a team bronze medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games while finishing individually in fifth place.

“It’s always been my dream to have Pavarotti at an Olympic Games and it’s an incredible day to be realizing that dream,” she said. “Pavarotti and I have a long history together competing in the Pan American Games, World Equestrian Games and multiple four- and five-star competitions around the world. The Olympics feels like a culmination of all of our years together.”

In 2010 Phoenix, now 37, was part of the silver medal-winning team at the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Lexington, KY aboard Exponential.

A year later she captured individual gold and led the team to a silver medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, this time riding Pavarotti, a feat that earned her Equestrian Canada’s Equestrian of the Year honours. She rode Exponential at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

During the 2015 spring competition season, Phoenix was injured during a fall on cross-country, breaking three ribs as well as the sacrum bone at the base of her spine and requiring surgery on her liver. After 13 days in hospital, she was back training and won individual silver and team bronze at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto with Pavarotti.

Phoenix went on to continue her major games run with A Little Romance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games before returning to Pavarotti’s saddle in 2018.

Phoenix is joined on the Team Canada Eventing roster by her Lima 2019 teammate, Colleen Loach.

While each dressage athlete will be making their Olympic debut in Tokyo, there is no lack of major Games experience on the team. Chris von Martels earned individual bronze and team silver at the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015 while Lindsay Kellock was part of the gold medal-winning team that earned Canada’s Olympic berth at Lima 2019.

Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and her partner All In, have been the highest placed Canadian combination on the Dressage World Ranking since 2017.

Representing Canada in jumping will be Olympic veteran Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina 2, his partner at the Tryon 2018 Word Equestrian Games.

Deslauriers, 56, previously competed at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988.

Equestrian will take place July 24 to August 7 (Days 1 to 15) at the Equestrian Park.

Joey Lye, meanwhile, has been a member of Canada’s national softball team since 2010 and has played in every World Championships since, earning bronze medals in 2010, 2016 and 2018.

She also helped Canada to Pan Games silver medals in 2011 and 2019 and gold in 2015 in Toronto.

A heart-and-soul type utility player, Lye started all seven games at second base and hit .316 during Lima 2019. A few weeks later at the WBSC Americas Olympic Qualifier, she hit .600 as Canada booked its ticket to Tokyo.

A dual-sport collegiate athlete, Lye was a four-year letter winner in both softball and hockey at Williams College where she was named to the NESCAC’s All-Sportsmanship Team in both sports.

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