Team USA won the team title and Australian driver, Boyd Exell, proved he remains in a league of his own by securing a third successive individual WEG gold medal. Despite the valiant efforts of crowd favourite, America’s Chester Weber, who showed icy composure to secure that team gold and grab individual silver, no one was able to rival Exell from the moment he entered the dressage arena on day one.
First in the dressage, third in the marathon stage despite driving with broken brakes and second in the closing cones phase, Exell finished almost 10 points clear of Weber while Edouard Simonet, the 29-year-old Belgian who was once a back-stepper for Exell, took individual bronze medal.
Weber, who also finished second to Exell at the 2014 WEG in Normandy, France, was overjoyed to secure the unexpected team victory in front of a raucous North Carolina crowd. “I can tell you that was a surprise!”, he said. The Netherlands, WEG champions in 2010 and 2014, lined up in silver while Belgium bagged the bronze.
The Belgians, who are also European bronze medallists, served notice of their intention to change driving’s established order. “We are the future not only of Belgian driving but of international driving,” said Glenn Geerts, who like individual bronze medal winner Simonet is 29 years old, while Dries Degrieck, the third member of the team, is just 23.
“I love training horses. It is a relief to win, I have a huge team of people who have been with me twenty years.”