Roxanne Trunnell rides Dolton in the dressage individual Test Grade I Equestrian competition during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 27, 2021 in Tokyo.
Roxanne Trunnell came into the Paralympic Games as the top-ranked equestrian athlete across all five grades and a favorite to reach the podium.
She’s leaving as a two-time individual gold medalist who helped make history for the U.S. this week.
The 36-year-old from Richland, Washington, became the first American to win a gold medal in the sport in 25 years on Friday when she won the Grade I dressage individual test. On Monday, one day after helping the U.S. team to a bronze medal, Trunnell closed out the competition with her second gold of the Games, this time in the Grade I individual freestyle test.
“I just wanted a nice test,” she said of her ride on Monday. “It felt really good, riding with the music the whole time. The experience (at Tokyo 2020) has been really nice. Everyone here is so happy and friendly, making everyone in the barn happy, it’s just fun.”
Riding her 9-year-old partner Dolton, Trunnell scored 86.927 percent in the final event to put her well ahead of Latvia’s Rihards Snikus, who won silver on King of the Dance with a score of 82.087 percent. Italy’s Sara Morganti won bronze along with Royal Delight, scoring 81.100 percent.
Two other U.S. riders also competed in freestyle tests Monday, with Katie Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 finishing fourth in Grade IV, and Beatrice de Lavalette with Clarc taking sixth in Grade II.
A lifelong equestrian, Trunnell competed as an able-bodied athlete until she contracted the H1N1 virus in 2009 at the age of 23. It turned to encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, leading to a stroke. She was eventually diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia, which impacts her fine motor skills.
Trunnell competed in her first Paralympics in Rio in 2016 and finished 10th in the individual competition in Rio while the team finished 14th.
Then in 2018 she teamed up with Dolton, and the two went on to win a bronze medal at the World Equestrian Games that year. They’ve been on the rise ever since, having won all but one international competition they’ve competed in. Earlier this year they scored 83.334 percent in the individual test at an event in Wellington, Florida, setting a new world record.
Trunnell’s medal on Friday was the first for the U.S. equestrian team since 2004 and the first gold since 1996, when Vicki Sweigart won a pair of gold medals in Grade II. The sport was first contested at the Paralympics in 1984 but has been continuously part of the Games since 1996.
Trunnell’s individual accolades at Tokyo’s Equestrian Park aren’t the whole story of the Games for the U.S., either. In winning the bronze medal Sunday, the U.S. team also made history by winning the country’s first medal in the team test to music event.
That event saw Trunnell and Dolton lead off with a score of 80.321 percent in the Grade I test, followed by four-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel scoring with a 72.206 percent in Grade III on Saturday. The second day it came down to Shoemaker and Solitaer 40, who scored a 71.825 percent in Grade IV. Riders follow a set floor plan based on their grade during the competition.
Afterward, Hart spoke of what it was like to medal for the first time at her fourth Paralympics.