Britain has secured its place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a bronze medal finish at the Longines FEI European Showjumping Championships.
There were three Olympic spots up for grabs this week, with 10 of the 15 teams competing at the championships in Rotterdam seeking tickets to next year’s Games.
The race was on in today’s final, with six of the 10 teams that made it through to the third day of jumping still hoping to come away with Olympic qualification.
Belgium’s phenomenal gold medal-winning performance was gilded with one of the places, with Britain taking the second ticket and fourth-placed France claiming the final spot.
British chef d’equipe Di Lampard said it is “fantastic” to have this team together and last week’s victory in the Aga Khan trophy in Ireland was the boost the side needed.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for 12 months now and Dublin was certainly the trampoline for here,” she said. “The riders are all very well supported by some very good owners and a very strong team behind them as well. We are very fortunate and picking up momentum looking forward to Barcelona [for the Nations Cup final in October] and 2020.
“We came here to qualify for Tokyo and we have come away with a lot more than in terms of a bronze medal and now of course have Ben in pole position going into Sunday in the individuals and Holly in 12th. So our focus is now very much on Sunday and supporting the pair of them.”
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Consistently strong performances from Britain across the three days were rewarded with a team bronze medal Olympic qualification
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“I’m very happy obviously,” said Ben Maher, who is sitting in first place individually following a third foot-perfect clear with Explosion W. “The priority for the team today was to secure Tokyo qualification, which [has been] a hard job as it’s been a difficult year for us.
“We have an incredible team and very good team spirit, some things haven’t gone our way this week as well but we kept together today and I gave the team the best start I could and some confidence to produce the results.”
Joining Ben on the British team were Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny), Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) and Scott Brash (Hello M’Lady). Their combined result means Britain now has a full set of equestrian disciplines qualified for next summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Luck was not on Ireland’s side in the team competition with rails for all four riders yesterday. Two clear rounds and two unlucky poles in today’s final was a strong improvement, but not enough to take one of the Olympic spots. The nation will have one final chance to qualify for next year’s Games, which will come at the FEI Nations Cup final.
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