SEATTLE -- In the saddle since she was 8 years old, Amy Tryon built a reputation as a fierce competitor who overcame financial hardship and injuries while rising to stardom as one of the United States' finest riders.
The two-time Olympic equestrian from Duvall, Wash., and former volunteer firefighter in the Seattle area died Thursday. She was 42. Tryon won a bronze medal in team eventing at the 2004 Athens Olympics and took part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Her cause of death was not known.
Born Feb. 24, 1970, in Redmond, Wash., Tryon was given her first pony as an adolescent.
"She finished high school early in order to gain upper-level experience beyond the Pacific Northwest," according to her website, TeamTryon.com. "From age 16 to 21, [she] traveled the country with two horses, competing, training with world-class instructors and supporting herself as a working student." She found her top horse, Poggio II, in a classified advertisement in The Seattle Times and developed into an accomplished rider aboard the former racehorse.
They represented the United States at two Olympics and two World Equestrian Games, winning team gold in Jerez, Spain, in 2002 and individual bronze in Aachen, Germany, in 2006.
Before the 2004 Olympics, Tryon and her husband, Greg, sold their home and she took a job at Mapleleaf Eventing at Upson Downs Farm in Duvall to train horses.
In 2006, Tryon retired as a firefighter to compete full-time in equestrian. That year, she was named the Eventing Horseman of the Year by the magazine Chronicle.
In 2007, Tryon served a two-month suspension stemming from an incident at a Kentucky competition when her horse Le Samurai was euthanized. An international tribunal ruled she was negligent in not stopping the horse, which suffered a front knee ligament injury late in the competition.
In recent years, Tryon suffered knee and back injuries that forced her to cut back from riding and focus on training.
Tryon is survived by her husband of 16 years.
A passage from her website reads: "We ask that all take a moment to reflect on Amy whether that little girl on a pony, that girl on the horse, that woman representing her country in the Olympics, or the woman serving her community as a firefighter.
"We hope that brings a smile and a bit of comfort as it does us."