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September 20, 2000

UW-RF Alumnus Wins Bronze, Competes for Olympic

Susan Blinks, a member of the United States Equestrian Team, earned an Olympic Bronze medal in team dressage on Sept. 27. She continues to climb in the individual competitions while pursuing a medal in the final competition of individual dressage, set for Saturday, Sept. 30.

Blinks, a 1980 graduate of UW-River Falls and a Rochester, Minn., native, will compete in musical freestyle, the final test for the individual dressage medal. At the conclusion of Friday's competition, Blinks was in 11th place.

Blinks Bronze Medal in the team equestrian event marked the third consecutive Olympiad in which the U.S. took that award. Blinks and the U.S. team edged out Denmark. Germany won the Gold with the Netherlands capturing the Silver, also for the third straight Olympics.

The U.S. Olympics Team noted the U.S. team provided scoring with Blinks earning 1,725 for her ride, with team capta

in Robert Dover scoring 1,678. The medal was clinched when Blinks' team mate Christine Traug rode last and scrored the highest total of her career, 1,729. The U.S. team quotes Blinks on winning the Bronze, as saying, "I had every part of my body crossed, rooting for Christine. With all that pressure, she did just and unbelieveable job. She really is a hero. I can hardly believe that I'm an Olympic medalist."

Blinks began her equestrian study at UW-River Falls. Her talent was easy to detect, according to associate professor of Animal Science Larry Kasten.

Blinks possessed what Kasten refers to as "a feel" for horsemanship. Her horse, 13-year-old Flim Flam, is reputed to be one of the best dressage mounts in the world. The pair has worked together since he was two years old.

Recalling Blinks' academic career, Kasten noted, "When she came here, she was a gifted rider. She was a very talented woman," said Kasten, "There are a small percentage of students who have the talents and skill to train horses.

"She has a tremendous work ethic, drive and competition by nature," said Kasten, who instructed Blinks at UW-RF. "She learned her basics here. We gave her a good foundation in horsemanship and tools to build on."

According to USET, Blinks commented on their final team dressage performance: "I am very, very pleased with him. I had the best ride of my life yesterday and he was ready."

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