Irish Show Jumping team secured their Olympic ticket riding in spirit for Kevin Babington
- 10 October 2019, 16:11
The drama and stakes couldn’t have been higher this past week in Barcelona, Spain, when the Irish Show Jumping team of Darragh Kenny, Cian O’ Connor, Paul O’Shea and Peter Moloney took to the arena at the Real Club de Polo, needing to finish ahead of both Columbia and Italy to secure the last ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
All members of the Irish team and management wore specially commissioned Irish orange armbands embroidered with a four leaf clover and the words “BabingtonStrong,” in support of Irish rider Kevin Babington who suffered life-changing injuries in a fall last month in the United States. The Irish team rode as if Kevin was with them over every jump, posting a near flawless performance to not only secure their ticket to Tokyo, but taking the overall victory at the 2019 Longines FEI Nations Cup Final.
It was Ireland’s first time to qualify a Show Jumping team for an Olympic Games since Athens in 2004 where in fact, Tipperary-born Kevin Babington was a key member of the Irish team – finishing just one place outside the individual medals in fourth place with The Irish Sport Horse Carling King.
The armbands and the “Babington Strong” idea was first developed by Irish riders Alan Griffin and Denis Coakley (pictured), close friends of the Babington family and the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament’s Chairman, Jeff Papows, who helped them bring the idea to life with the help of SmartPak–a longtime supporter of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament.
Jeff Papows commented:
“We are carrying the idea forward and are in process of having the ‘Babington Strong’ armbands available at all the major shows this fall and winter. Riders will be able to elect to donate a percentage of their prize winnings to assist in Kevin’s recovery. Everybody I’ve spoken to has been great. Mark and the Winter Equestrian Festival, Robby and the World Equestrian Center, Nona and the Turf Tour. Again, this is further confirmation of how loved Kevin is universally.”
Irish team member Darragh Kenny, who also won the Queens Cup in Barcelona added:
“We felt significant pressure riding for both our country and dear friend and teammate Kevin, everyone wanted to be perfect.”
Any shows or individuals that would like to get involved with the Babington Strong initiative please contact Jeff Papows