Contributed by IOC Young Reporter Jade Webster: Determination, courage and motivation helped Polly SERPELL (CAY) make history for the Cayman Islands as she took home the first ever medal in Equestrian.
SERPELL competed in the team event on August 20th representing North America, along with Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Dominican Republic. The team walked away winners with bronze medals in hand.
“I still can’t believe it, me and my team are over the moon and I’m just so excited,” SERPELL said.
Europe’s team of Filip AGREN (SWE), Michael DUFFY (IRL), Jake SAYWELL (GBR), Matias ALVARO (ITA) and Lisa NOOREN (NED) took gold, it was silver for Team South America’s Francisco S. MARTINEZ CALVELO (URU) Antoine PORTE (CHI), Valeria Maria JIMENEZ CABALLERO (PAR), Martina CAMPI (ARG) and Bianca DE SOUZA RODRIGUES (BRA) and bronze for Team North America’s Polly SERPELL (CAY), Macarena CHIRIBOGA GRANJA (ECU), Sabrina RIVERA MEZA (ESA), Stefanie BRAND (GUA) and Maria Gabriela BRUGAL (DOM).
“I didn’t take [the medal] off all day yesterday but now I’ve locked it away in my drawer,” she said.
The 16- year-old has been training for a win like this for nearly 11 years. She hoped at the big event her nerves would not get the best of her.
“I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I am. I went in a lot more confident than I thought,” SERPELL said.
SERPELL had a rough start on the first day when she fell off horse Giorgio Zan, then Team North America finished round one with a total of eight penalties but held their ground finishing round two with zero.
“We came in unknown, an underdog, so we proved ourselves,” said Equestrian coach Mary ALBERGA (CAY),” Polly scored and tied for first in the overall in our team, she came tied at the number one position in team, so we have really stepped up to the plate.”
Cayman Islands does not have many experienced riders, however ALBERGA hopes SERPELL’s win will see positive growth at Cayman’s Equestrian Centre.
“It will encourage all the little kids to become like Polly,” ALBERGA said, “They’ll always have somebody to mentor, and they will watch her and see her ride and copy her. I think it will be a huge boost in the sport itself and I think that is all you can really ask for.”
SERPELL, who had to form an instant bond on her borrowed horse, wants to eventually share this achievement with her horse from the Cayman Islands, Calidad, which means quality.
“That would be the ultimate goal, to take your horse to the games and win the medal,” said SERPELL, “That is the eventual goal. That’s when all your training has paid off.”
The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC) commends Polly and the team for this historic accomplishment. The CIOC also commends the Equestrian Federation for all of its hard work and preparation to get Polly to this level. This is truly a great moment for the CIOC and we would like to thank all of our top sponsors; DART, Moore Stephens Decosimo Cayman Ltd., Kensington Management Group Ltd., First Caribbean National Bank, Mr. and Mrs. Borel and Jean Louie David, who’s sponsorship help develop Caymanian athletes like Polly.