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Madden named to Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame

Cazenovia native first equestrian honored by Hall

Cazenovia native Beezie Madden, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is the first equestrian athlete named to the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. The induction dinner is Oct. 15 at Drumlins Country Club. She is seen here aboard her horse Via Volo.

Cazenovia native Beezie Madden, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is the first equestrian athlete named to the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. The induction dinner is Oct. 15 at Drumlins Country Club. She is seen here aboard her horse Via Volo. Helene H. Gallagher

Beezie Madden has blazed lots of trails on her way to earning two Olympic gold medals.

Now the Cazenovia resident has another piece of history to savor - the first equestrian athlete named to the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

Madden's induction was made official Wednesday at the Hall of Fame's home inside Driver's Village in Cicero, though she was unable to attend because she is in Canada, in preparation for a shot at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

She joins seven others - golfer Sally Dee, basketball coach Pat Donnelly, football player Dick Easterly, baseball pitcher John Johnstone, 1950s basketball star Bob Kalfelz, lacrosse player Brad Kotz and administrator Royce Newell - in the induction Class of 2012.

Connie Sawyer, who represents Madden and her husband, John, said at the event that Madden will attend the Hall of Fame induction dinner on Oct. 15 at Drumlins Country Club.

"She is incredibly honored and flattered," said Sawyer. "it was important for her to represent the fans in her hometown. It (equestrian) is not a mainstream sport, and Central New York has been incredibly good to her and John."

Though born in Milwaukee, Wisc., Madden established herself in Central New York after a fine youth career and a debut in Grand Prix competition in 1985.

Four years later, in 1989, the United States Olympic Committee named Madden the Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year when she became the first woman to surpass $1 million in earnings, moving into the world rankings in show jumping.

Yet it wasn't until 2004 that Madden broke through in the Olympics, helping Team USA claim the gold medal in Athens with two clean runs. Another gold followed in Beijing in 2008 and, in between, she won the individual and team silver medals during the World Equestrian Games with her horse Authentic.

Amid all this, Madden remained true to her adopted home, making annual appearances at the Syracuse Invitational during the fall at the Onondaga County War Memorial. For this and other reasons, she twice has picked up the Stone Cup from the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation's for her work as an athlete and ambassador for the sport.

For the 2012 games in London, Team USA will send four show-jumping entrants. Currently, Madden and her horse, Via Volo, are ranked second. Whether she goes to London, and whether she medals again, another honor is guaranteed this fall back home.

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