Video: Bizarre incident sparks fury as Ireland miss out on Olympic spot by half a fault
Published 21/08/2015 | 18:54
There was drama and desperate disappointment for Ireland after they lost out on a place in Rio in the most unbelievable of circumstances at the FEI European Championships in Aachen.
Ireland needed to finish in the top three of the non-qualified nations at the competition.
There was agony for Ireland, as their team - Bertram Allen, Greg Broderick, Cian O'Connor and Denis Lynch - controversially missed out by 0.380 penalties behind sixth-placed Spain, who took the final Rio spot, while bronze medallists Switzerland and fourth placed Great Britain who also booked a trip to Brazil next summer.
Ireland were totally out of luck after an arena steward inadvertently ran in front of O'Connor and his mount Good Luck during his round, and the London 2012 individual bronze medallist then had the next fence down.
O'Connor could be seen pointing as he exited the arena, and the Irish team were understandably furious as had the fence not gone down, Ireland would have secured qualification.
His four faults would count towards Ireland score as Allen with Molly Malone and Broderick on HMS Going Global also had a pole on the ground.
Denis Lynch went clear as Ireland's anchor leg to put the pressure on Spain who would fall behind Ireland if they registered a time fault but the Spanish rider went clear and Ireland miss out.
He finished inside the time allowed of 89 seconds on 88.33.
While world champions Holland celebrated winning gold, with Germany finishing second , Ireland began an appeal process led by their team manager Robert Splaine.
An initial appeal was thrown out, but that Ireland are still pursuing the matter.
The official Team Ireland Equestrian Twitter feed was awash with messages of support on Friday night for the quartet of O'Connor, Lynch, Bertram Allen and Greg Broderick.
There has so far been no comment from the sport's world governing body, the Federation Equestre Internationale.
There was plenty of reaction to the incident on Twitter:
Ireland robbed of a place in RIO by an idiot walking in front of @Cian_O_Connor— Neil O'Brien (@NeilOBrien1) August 21, 2015
Ireland lodge objection - a steward ran in front of Cian O'Connor & he had the next fence down. Will be crucial to Ireland qualifying or not— Clare Balding (@clarebalding) August 21, 2015