Germany’s Bettina Hoy became the first woman ever to win an individual eventing Olympic gold medal, but as the medal was placed around her neck controversy raged over her first team show jumping round in which she crossed the start point twice.
The ground jury, and not as rumoured the French camp, noticed that Bettina had ridden Ringwood Cockatoo through the start more than once. After watching a video of her round the decision was made to award her 14 penalties, which robbed Germany of its team gold medal and dropped Bettina down to eighth place individually.
However, when the matter was referred to the appeal committee, they overturned the ground jury’s decision after consultation with Bettina. At the subsequent press conference, the French team announced their decision to appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport.
Hugh Thomas, a member of the appeal committee, said: “The matter was put to appeal because an error was made in the management of the start and as a result of that error Bettina had reason to believe that the clock had been reset [after she first crossed the start] and that her time would be take from her second start. You have to make certain that the rider concerned is not put at a disadvantage and it was on this that the appeal committee based its decision.”
Bettina, who last won an Olympic medal – team bronze – at the 1984 LA Olympics, said: “When the bell rang I checked on the board and it said 35 seconds, so I decided to do another circle and when they announced that I had a clear show jumping round, that is what I thought it was.”
Didier Courreges, spokesman for the despondent French team which had been awarded the gold medal only to see it whisked away again in the space of a few minutes, said: “We were happy with our silver medal, but the ground jury’s decision led us to believe that we were going to get the gold and then we were back to the silver again and that is hard to take.”
William Fox-Pitt confirmed that the British, who also saw their expected silver medal turn back into bronze, would not be lodging an appeal against the appeal committee’s decision.
“We are enjoying the moment,” he said.
Aside from the controversy, 24-year-old Nicolas Touzaint, who had occupied the individual gold medal position since the second day’s dressage, plummeted out of the medals with four fences down and three time penalties, while four jumping faults and two time penalties were enough to leave Bettina at the front of the field.
Leslie Law and Shear L’Eau’s copybook clear saw them rise up the order and collect a silver medal to add to Britain’s team bronze, while America’s Kimberley Severson collected the individual bronze medal after accruing just four faults with Winsome Adante. Four faults for Pippa Funnell and Primmore’s Pride at the influential plank fence in the final round cost her a medal and left her in fourth place.
The second show jumping round, held under floodlights a couple of hours after the team round, was not only devastating for Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint, but it prompted 23 of the 25 top placed individuals to fault, with only Leslie and seventh placed Amy Tryon and Poggio II adding no penalties to their scores.
“I never dreamed of this happening. I just wanted to get a team medal,” said Leslie.
The French team will lodge their appeal with the Court for Arbitration in Sport tomorrow, but the court will then have to decide whether it will take on the case.
Final individual results
1. Bettina Hoy (Ringwood Cockatoo) GER 41.60
2. Leslie Law (Shear L’Eau) GBR 44.40
3. Kimberly Severson (Winsome Adante) USA 45.20
4. Pippa Funnell (Primmore’s Pride) GBR 46.60
5. Jean Teulere (Espoir De La Mare) FRA 50.40
6. Hinrich Romeike (Marius) GER 51.20
7. Amy Tryon (Poggio II) USA 51.80
8. Heelan Tompkins (Glengarrick) NZL 52.00
9. Nicolas Touzaint (Galan De Sauvagere) FRA 52.40
10.Constantin van Rijckevorsel (Withcote Nellie) BEL 58.40