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Michael Blake’s Irish Show Jumping team of Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen, Cian O’Connor and Daniel Coyle, claimed one of the five coveted places on offer for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris by finishing fourth in the ECCO FEI World Show Jumping Championships in Herning, Denmark
Ireland climbed from overnight ninth place to finish fourth overall and take one of the five Olympic places on offer – and at the finish, missed out on the bronze medal by just one penalty.
Just the top 10 teams from the 22 that started the week made it through to the final under floodlights. Ireland starting in ninth place overall, carrying forward a score of 17.15 penalties from the first two rounds held on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tipperary’s Denis Lynch was first to jump with his Rome Grand Prix winner Brooklyn Heights. The World No.25 produced an excellent round, jumping clear over the fences, picking up just one time fault over what was proving a very difficult course.
Wexford’s Bertram Allen then gave Ireland another boost when he jumped an outstanding clear round with The Irish Sport Horse Pacino Amiro. Those rounds from Lynch and Allen moved Ireland up five places to fourth with two riders left to jump for each of the 10 teams.Third to go for Ireland, Meath’s Cian O’Connor and C Vier 2 were clear until the penultimate combination where they had one fence down and picked up one time fault for a five fault score. That score from O’Connor would prove crucial.
Derry’s Daniel Coyle had a couple of fences down with Legacy, after which Coyle decided to retire knowing he couldn’t improve Ireland’s score.Sweden claimed a well-deserved team gold medal after finishing on a score of just 7.69. Netherlands took silver on 19.31 while Britain just pipped Ireland for bronze on 22.66 seconds.
Ireland in fourth had a final score of 23.15, while Germany took the last Olympic qualifying place on a score of 24.76.Irish team manager Michael Blake said: “Obviously we are delighted to take an Olympic qualification place at the very first opportunity as it now gives us two full years to prepare for the Games. It is slightly bittersweet as we came so close to winning a medal.
Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan added:“Huge congratulations to Michael Blake and his team on a fantastic performance at the World Championships and in gaining Olympic qualification. To qualify here at the very first opportunity against all of the top teams in the world, is hugely significant, as it gives us as much time as possible to prepare for Paris.”