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Vaulting Friendship Team USA Exhibition at the Summer Olympics
Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 23, 1996

by Priscilla Faulkner and Danielle Deojay

Forty thrilled young athletes exhibited vaulting to the spectators at the Centennial Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta this July. Sponsored by the American Vaulting Association, the demonstration was held in conjunction with the Olympic Show Jumping competition on July 25th and 29th at the International Georgia Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia.

Four horses, four longeurs and ten vaulters per horse presented gymnastics on horseback to the world. The horses Never Embrace, a Canadian Thoroughbred from Connecticut longed by Patti Skipton, Toby, also a Canadian Thoroughbred from Connecticut longed by Vicki Sherraden, Ureon, a Dutch Warmblood from New Jersey longed by Alice Oldford, and Lady Lightfoot, a Belgian from South Carolina longed by Claudia Garner rose to the occasion, performing at their best.

The USA Friendship Team, representing eighteen vaulting teams from across the USA, was comprised of top level silver and gold medalists. As ambassadors for the USA and representatives of their sport, they vaulted in front of thousands of spectators, explained the sport of vaulting to all who asked and graciously signed autographs for the many "fans" who expressed their enthusiasm for the exciting sport of vaulting.

Currently, there are more than 60 teams throughout the country registered with the American Vaulting Association. The sport has been growing in popularity in the U.S. over the last decade while, in Europe, vaulting is a firmly established sport.

Equestrian vaulting combines the agility of horseback riding with the athleticism of gymnastics and grace of ballet. As the horse is guided on a lead in a circle by a longeur, the vaulters perform compulsory exercises and freestyle routines on the cantering horse.

The USA Friendship Team exhibited their sport with competency, demonstrating the integration of technical skills, teamwork and performance.

Being a part of the Equestrian Venue Exhibitions at the 1996 Summer Olympics was an honor not only for the USA Vaulting Friendship Team but for all who are part of the vaulting community.

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