AS expected, Carlow’s Sam Watson has been confirmed Ireland’s Eventing team for the Tokyo Olympics, following in the footsteps of his father John who was an Olympian at Seoul in 1988.
Watson and the team secured Olympic qualification when they the team silver medal at the 2018 World Championships – becoming the first Irish team in any sport to qualify for Tokyo.
Watson has competed at three World Championships and the team also includes Ireland’s top-ranked Eventing rider Cathal Daniels and Sarah Ennis who finished fifth individually at the 2018 World Championships. Austin O’Connor, who represented Ireland at two previous Olympic Games, at Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008, has also been selected as P Alternate rider.
The Irish Eventing team includes no less than three Irish Sport Horses. Cathal Daniels rides Rioghan Rua (ISH) , Sam Watson partners Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH), Sarah Ennis will ride Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) and Austin O’Connor is selected with Colorado Blue.
Watson is also the Eventing team manager and he said:
“Personally, it’s a huge honour to get the opportunity to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games. I have three World Championships and five Europeans under my belt, but this will be a first Games. It will be something that my own support team and family will cherish, but it’s business as usual for me right now.
“On a broader note, I think Tokyo 2020 is a massive moment for us all. It’s a symbol of our ability to survive and, ultimately, to thrive. Global governing bodies, national sporting bodies and individual coaches, managers and support staff have really put their hearts and soles into making this possible. It’s been the same for athletes too, and it’s seriously tough on the ones that won’t make it there after all their effort, but as someone who now has the chance, I’ll be putting everything into these next few weeks to get a result for the country.”
Horse Sport Ireland Eventing High Performance Director Sally Corscadden said:
“It is a huge honour and privilege to be representing Team Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics. The squad, coaches and support staff have worked incredibly hard to prepare for the challenges of travelling and competing horses on the other side of the world. It is an enormous logistical operation and we couldn’t do it without the great staff in HSI and the fantastic support of the OFI and Sport Ireland.
“With the new format it was never going to be an easy selection and I would like to thank all the squad members for their input and engagement over the past two and a half years. They have really made Eventing in Ireland very competitive and raised the bar. This will be the toughest competition in so many ways, but we are lucky to have such experienced and professional athletes to call upon.
“You can be sure that we will be going there to do our best and wish to make Eventing Ireland and all our supporters proud of our performances on the world stage.”
The officially selected Eventing combinations for the Olympic Games are:
Cathal Daniels with Rioghan Rua (ISH) – 2007 mare by Jack Of Diamonds (SWE) out of Highland Destiny (ISH)[TIH] by Flagmount King (ID). Breeder/Owner: Margaret Kinsella (Galway).
Sarah Ennis with Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) [was Woodcourt Garrison] – 2009 gelding by Garrison Royal (ISH) out of Davitt Star (ISH) by Furisto (HANN). Breeder: Patrick J Kearns (Laois). Owner: Breda Kennedy
Sam Watson with Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) – 2009 gelding by Tullabeg Fusion [ISH] out of Tullabeg Heidi (unk) by Ardenteggle Sir (IPSA). Breeder: Nicholas Cousins (Wexford). Owner: Vahe Bogossian
P Alternate Athlete/Horse – Austin O’Connor with Colorado Blue (SHBGB) – 2009 grey gelding by Jaguar Mail out of Rock Me Baby by Rock Kind. Breeder: Mellon Stud, Owner Austin O’Connor and The Salty Syndicate
The Eventing competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games runs from 29 July to 2 August.