Sports

Walker, Underhill ride into Tokyo 2020 with Pan Am finish

August 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By JAKE COURTEPATTE

It may not have been a podium finish, but it was the next best thing for York Region’s Nicole Walker at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

The 26-year old was one of four teammates in the equestrian team jumping competition for Team Canada to earn a fourth place finish, good enough to secure the red and white a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

With a large crowd of friends and family cheering her on, Walker was happy with her competition in talking to media after the event.

“There’s way more pressure for sure with the Olympic qualification and obviously we did our best to get a medal,” she said. “There’s been a lot of (Canadian) fans in the crowd, being here all week with the team, and getting a chance to bond with them, it’s been pretty special.”

She was aboard the 14-year old Falco van Spieveld for the event, a Belgian Warmblood.

“My horse has a massive stride and we really try to use his stuff, and luckily the plan came together,” said Walker. “Not often do we get a chance to go fast with a Nations Cup format, so that’s a bit different for us, but it executed well for us today. Probably a handful of speeds I’ve done on him; usually it’s slower and we have to jump a bit bigger and jump clean, so it was kind of fun to let it rip a bit today.”

Equestrian is very much in Walker’s bloodstream: her grandfather is none other than Frank Stronach, the owner of Magna International and a staple in the equestrian community for decades.

Walker herself took home a CET Medal title in her junior competition years, before heading into the Under 25 series and winning a national title at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto.

She became the Canadian Show Jumping national champion with Falco van Spieveld just last year.

Schomberg’s Beth Underhill also served as a backup for the competition, a veteran of the world stage at basically every level. Her and her steed Count Me In won the CSI 2 competition in Caledon earlier this year.



         

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