Japan and Australia’s showjumpers have qualified for Rio 2016.
The countries finished first and second respectively in a closely-fought competition at the CS1* Olympic qualifier in Hagen, Germany yesterday (Tuesday, 25 August).
Only two team tickets were up for grabs.
The Japanese team was made up of Toshiki Masui, Daisuke Fukushima, Tadahiro Hayashi and Taizo Sugitani.
The Australian team was spearheaded by Olympic rider Edwina Tops-Alexander who was joined by Scott Keach, Julia Hargreaves and Jamie Kermond.
“At the end of the day we wanted to qualify for Rio and that’s what we did,” said Edwina. “Sure we would have like to have won, we’re all very competitive, but in general the horses jumped really well and we were happy with that.
“We had great team spirit which helped us to get the job done. The goal was achieved and now we’re focused on building a strong team for the Rio Olympics.”
This left Chinese Tapai, Hong Kong and the Philippenes without a spot.
The individual competition had a tight finish with Kiwi rider Samantha McIntosh, who is based in France, aboard Estina jumping off against Isheau Wong (Chinese Taipei) and 11-year-old Zadarijke V.
Samatha rode first, going clear in 39.7 seconds, with Isheau coming home in 36.38 seconds, claiming the individual spot for Tapai.
Ishaeu, who is based in Holland, is a former pupil of Samantha.
“Sam was my trainer for a long time so I had very mixed feelings about the fact that we were up against each other,” she said.
“We would always both want the best for each other, but today I had to be her rival on the field of play. I didn’t see her round against the clock so I just tried to be as fast as I could.”
Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) jumping performance coach Jeff McVean added: “Sam had an awesome three rounds but was just unlucky (to take a rail) in the second round.
“I am gutted for the riders.
“It is very disappointing to miss out by such a close margin but I am very proud of their performances nonetheless.”
New Zealand can still qualify an individual rider for the competition through rider rankings, although ESNZ acknowledged this would be a “very challenging prospect”.
Last week at the FEI European Showjumping Championships in Aachen Britain, Switzerland and Spain secured their places at Rio next year.
The Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, Ukraine, Canada, Qatar, Argentia and the USA have all already qualified for next year’s Games. Brazil as host nation receive an automatic berth at the Olympics.