Leslie Morse Works Towards 2004 Olympics
American Athlete Moves One Step Closer to Her Dream of 2004 Olympics
American athlete Leslie Morse was recently awarded a $35,000 grant to pursue training and coaching in England with a five-time Olympian. Ms. Morse competes in dressage, one of the few international level sports in which men and women compete equally against one another. After working her way from local competitions to national level events, Ms. Morse appears poised to reach the pinnacle of all athletics-- the Olympics in 2004.
Ms. Morse began her competitive career on a $650 spotted Appaloosa. She has worked her way up through the ranks to win two United States Equestrian Team (USET) National Championships, and three United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Horse of the Year Championships.
Like most team sports, dressage requires more than one committed athlete. Ms. Morse has finally found the ideal teammate in a 17.2 hand bay stallion named Kingston. Although he has elegant long legs and powerful gaits, many in the dressage community did not believe Kingston had talent for international competitions until Ms. Morse forged a relationship with the horse. "I knew the moment I first sat on him that we would be a great team," Ms. Morse said. The pair has been virtually undefeated for more than two years and has won a USET National Championship and USDF Horse of the Year Championship.
Dressage is a sport much like pairs figure skating. Two athletes work as a team to demonstrate technical skills in an artistic setting, all set to music. Dressage has been an Olympic sport since 1912, and is a sport in which women consistently outscore their male counterparts; women have claimed the last four Olympic individual gold medals. Dressage is extremely popular in Europe and is one of the fastest growing equestrian sports in the U.S. To succeed in dressage an athlete must have strength, patience, and tenacity while preserving the spirit of the horse.
With the grant from the United States Equestrian Team, Ms. Morse was able to accomplish the lifelong goal of training with five-time Olympian Kyra Kyrklund. The time in Europe will enable Ms. Morse to establish an international presence. "In dressage, it is very important for the Americans to be seen by the international judges," Ms. Morse said.
Fans have been following the pair's adventures in "Dressage Diaries," which appears on Ms. Morse's web site.