Take an Equestrian Journey with Diana De Rosa at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima Peru
I’ve been going to Pan Am, World Equestrian and Olympic Games to cover the horse sports for many years. In fact, next year I’ll be covering my 9th Olympics and this time it will be in Tokyo, Japan, a country I’ve never been to. Since I’ve traveled the world and been to over 30 countries, I’m excited about going to a country I’ve never visited.
Right now, I’m in Lima Peru at the Pan American Games and for the next couple of weeks I’ll be recapping my journey. So, join me as I bring you behind the scenes. This will be my second time in Lima, but the last time was many years ago. So, I’m excited to be back again and love being surrounded by a different language and doing my best to learn a few more words while I am here.
One of the things most people don’t realize is that the process of going to any Games is a long one and it’s also difficult to get accredited. For me it’s a passion. I love traveling to a foreign country even if it’s just for work. Enjoying the culture, meeting the people and learning about their lifestyle is an eye opener in many ways.
The Journey Begins
Arriving at the Lima Airport and getting settled in
Fortunately, I was able to arrange transportation because one of my concerns is always safety. And while we always hope this won’t be an issue, we have been told to be mindful of this while in Lima. Our best mode of transportation has been uber and private transportation. While they do provide shuttles, that part has been a challenge.
My journey on Lamat Airlines to Lima went quite well. Great food, a direct flight and not having to worry when I landed made everything easier than it has been for past Games.
I arrived at around 6:00 AM. My driver, Chris took me to my Hotel in the San Borja region to drop off my bags and then to the main press center (MPC). One of the first things you do when arriving is get your accreditation and, in my case, a photographer’s one size fits all vest (this XXL is a bit of a challenge for my XS body).
Our arrival gift was a roomy backpack, which I often put aside to take home. Why, because it’s easy to mix up bags when they all look alike. So, if you plan to use it, a bit of color can be helpful.
The MPC is adequate for what most press need. In our case we’ll be spending most of our time out at the equestrian venue where all three disciplines (dressage, eventing and show jumping) will take place. The MPC has tables to work, snacks, coffee and tea, lockers and internet. There is also a place to buy snacks and beverages, souvenirs and a press conference area.
Our first press conference went over the protocol for photographers, especially for Opening Ceremony. We learned about where we could (and could not) shoot from at the various venues, what conditions would be like at the opening ceremony and that each venue would have a photographer’s point person.
The Main Press Center
Heading to My Home for the Duration
Once I’d finished all the basics and learned my way around a bit it was finally time to head to my hotel and the first real challenge.
At most Games the shuttle drops you off at the media hotels but in this case, they have drop off locations and from there you need to walk to your hotel. Yet, imagine you are in a country where you barely speak the language, have no idea where you are and have been warned to be careful.
After many failed attempts to locate my hotel (after being dropped off who knows where) I finally approached a few of the military and learned that it was too far for me to walk. But with a wave of the hand I was helped into a taxi and ten minutes later arrived at my Palmetto Hotel Business San Borja.
As had been the case all along, the people are so kind, generous and helpful with their time. From the minute I arrived at the airport every person I ever spoke to helped me get to the next step.
I’m sharing my room with fellow photographer Sarah Miller and for two people who are working journalists it is a bit small. Yet, it offers two nice size beds, a hot shower, internet access and a good heater. So, what more could I ask for in a country where unlike summer in New York, Lima in July is enjoying its winter, albeit more like crisp fall weather than biting cold winter. And for sure while I didn’t quite pack enough warm clothes, the riders and horses are doing their happy dance.
Transportation - Work - Sleep
Heading to the Equestrian Venue and Opening Ceremonies
On July 26th it was off to the equestrian venue to watch the dressage horses jog. A field of 43 horses from North and South America was narrowed down to 38 after some did not pass their “physical.” The excitement for the day was when one horse (Jennifer Baumert’s Handsome) enjoyed a bit of freedom (and a scary happy dance for Team USA) zooming around the warmup ring after managing to get free. And there are always a few horses that pose a challenge during the jog because of being a bit too excited to calmly jog.
A few hours later me and fellow photographer Ali Scattergood headed off to what we hoped would be a seamless Opening Ceremony. In fact, the event was brilliant but since it’s winter, there were some chattering teeth, including ours. Yet the ceremony was so well done and spoke to the culture and art of this country with a focus on the competitions during the parade of countries.
Equestrian Press Room, Dressage Jog and Opening Ceremony
Familiarization Day and Meeting the US Dressage Riders
July 27th was about the riders getting first looks at the arena they will be competing in followed by a chance to meet them in person. I headed over early in an uber with Canadian photographers Cealy Tetley and Bryan Barrier and while they focused on Canada, I kept my eyes peeled for anyone, anything or any horse showcasing an American flag. The familiarization tour in the arena offered a nice opportunity to see just that.
The familiarization is when the riders and the horses get a chance to be comfortable in the arena. Our US dressage riders, Jennifer Baumert riding Handsome, Nora Batchelder aboard Faro SQF (both geldings) and Sarah Lockman riding First Apple, a stallion, looked comfortable and ready as they toured the arena.
So far, so good!
Then with video and movie camera in hand it was time to speak to our US riders and USEF Dressage Technical Advisor and Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald. Among her many successes was a team and individual gold medal at the 1999 Pan American Games and team bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Debbie was hoping these riders would have similar results.
Getting Comfortable in the Arena
The Riders Talk about Their Horses
USA Wins a Team Silver in Dressage
The kick-off date for dressage began on July 28th and culminated on the 29th with a team silver medal for Team USA behind Canada and in front of Brazil. Since dressage has already qualified for next years Olympic Games, this gave Canada and Brazil their trip to Tokyo.
In the press conference following the ceremony every one of the three teams was oozing with pride at their results. They all applauded the facility, the people and the experience, noting that the cooler weather made it easier for their horses and the arena offered them a good opportunity to show off their best.
The final individual dressage competition takes place on July 31. So, follow me as I continue this journey, with hopes of capturing more USA equestrian riders on the podiums during these Pan American Games. Feel free to reach out to me with your questions and comments and follow me on facebook at both dianaderosa and equitanausa.
Canada wins Gold - USA Silver - Sarah Lockman Leads Individually
Update: USA Adds Gold and Bronze Individual Medals
It just makes sense to add the last phase of the dressage to this article, especially when the update includes Lockman winning an individual gold medal and Baumert claiming a bronze medal behind Canada's Tina Irwin. Batchelder was not far behind and placed fourth.
It was a great way to start these Games and with eventing coming up next things are looking bright for all our teams. If you'd like to see more pictures go to https://www.dianaderosa.com/gallery3/PanAmGames/2019-Pan-Am-Games-Peru where more photos will be uploaded each day.
I hope you'll follow me on this journey and feel free to reach out with your comments and questions.