Cian O’Connor still in the hunt for World Championship individual medal as Ireland narrowly miss out on Olympic qualification

  • 22 September 2018, 00:06

Ireland’s Cian O’Connor has qualified for Sunday’s individual Show Jumping final at the FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, USA, and sits less than one fence off silver medal position with his 12-year-old stallion Good Luck.

Cian O’Connor and Good Luck have made it through to the World Championship individual final (Photo: Erin Gilmore)

O’Connor finished with just one fence down in last night’s (Friday) third round of jumping and now sits in sixth place overall on a score of 6.69 penalties. Germany’s Simone Blum is in Gold medal position on 2.47, with Max Kühner (AUT) in silver on 2.97, while Martin Fuchs (SUI) lies in Bronze on 4.68. Today (Saturday) is a rest day for the top 25 riders who now will go forward to Sunday’s final where the new Show Jumping World Champion will be crowned after two more rounds of jumping.

Irish team manager Rodrigo Pessoa feels O’Connor is in with a great chance of winning a medal and said:

“Cian is in a very good place individually. This is very demanding jumping, so we will see how the horse is in the morning and if everything is okay and he can jump two clear rounds on Sunday, he will have a great chance of a medal.”

Last night’s team final at the World Equestrian Games saw The Devenish & Underwriting Exchange Irish Show Jumping team miss out on qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo by the slimiest of margins.

Rodrigo Pessoa’s team of Shane Sweetnam, Shane Breen, Paul O’Shea and Cian O’Connor finished in seventh place, just one place and just over one fence outside the top six who booked a ticket to Tokyo.

Breen (Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker), O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) and O’Connor {Good Luck) all finished with just one fence down apiece while Sweetnam was the discard score after finishing with nine faults aboard Chaqui Z. This left Ireland on a three round total of 39.12 – just under six penalties behind Australia who took the final Olympic qualification place on offer when finishing sixth.
The United States of America were crowned the new Show Jumping team World Champions on their home soil in North Carolina.
They came out on top after thrilling a jump-off with Sweden. Germany took home the Bronze, while Switzerland and The Netherlands finished fourth and fifth on their way to Olympic qualification.

Team manager Rodrigo Pessoa said:
“We came close but not close enough. Overall we made a lot of avoidable mistakes, too many mistakes over the three days and that cost us. At this level it is not very forgiving. It’s a shame [missing out on Olympic qualification]. We did everything we could. We lost the use of two good horses in the build up but we have to deal with that just like other countries. We came here with the best quartet available but we have come up short. We now have to go back to the drawing board. It will be tough at next years Europeans. A lot of very good European countries have missed out here [at the World Equestrian Games], on Olympic qualification so we have to re-focus and make a plan.”

Ireland still has two opportunities to qualify a Show Jumping team for the Tokyo Olympics. The next chance will come at the August 2019 European Championships in The Netherlands with three places on offer. However with several top teams such as Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Ireland all yet to qualify, and only three places up for grabs, it will be another dogfight to get the all-important ticket to Tokyo.
The final chance to gain Olympic qualification will come at the 2019 FEI Nations Cup final, with just one place on offer for the teams not yet qualified at that stage.

The Irish Show Jumping team is sponsored by Devenish & The Underwriting Exchange

Equiline – Official athlete clothing supplier of Team Ireland Equestrian

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