US showjumper McLain Ward – a strong contender for the 2012 London Olympics – has shattered his kneecap in a fall.
The accident happened on Saturday night (14 January) at the opening show of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.
Mr Ward’s mare relatively inexperienced mare Oh D’Eole, ran out at the combination and veered into a wing in the $30,000 ( £19,000) Surpass Grand Prix.
She was unhurt, but Mr Ward suffered a compound fracture of the patella and was operated on that night by US team doctor, Craig Ferrell.
Mr Ward, 36 – a member of the American gold medal-winning Olympic team in Hong Kong – now faces a fight to be fit enough to take part in the US Olympic trials, which start on 21 March.
His Hong Kong ride, Sapphire, has just returned to competition, after straining a check ligament in March last year.