By Mark Etheridge
The South African equestrian code has experienced a bitter-sweet finish at the recent special Olympic dressage qualification competition in Perl, Germany.
They were narrowly pipped by Japan in the race for a coveted spot at the Rio Olympics next year.. but on the individual front, Tanya Seymour has provisionally earned South Africa one of the two individual spots on offer.
Riding Ramoneur, Seymour placed fourth to seal the country’s Olympic berth.
In the team stakes Japan scored 5014.5 marks to South Africa’s 5013 meaning a difference of only 0.06%.
This was the first of two narrow losses to Japanese opposition for South African sport as a week later the Springbok rugby team were beaten by Japan at the World Cup in England.
In the team event South Africa was represented by Seymour, Denise Hallion on Werelvind, Katherine Berning on Brisbane and Nicole Smith with Victoria.
German based Seymour was born in South Africa but her parents moved to Australia before Seymour relocated to Germany.
Reflecting on the closeness of competition, South African Chef d’Equipe, Jenny Neill, said: ‘It was so tight with the marks, but I’m very pleased with our performance, our team has come so far and I’m excited by how well they did and very happy that we have qualified one individual for Rio. Hopefully we might also get another individual qualified as well. But while I’m very excited I’m also very disappointed – in the end however, it is what it is!” she added.
‘Tanya can do a 69 or 70 (percent score) and Nicole (Smith) also. Our riders are all based across Europe and they all come back frequently to South Africa to support our sport with clinics and training” she explained.
There’s still another chance for South Africa to get a second rider-horse combination to Rio. ‘There’s an opportunity via the Group F Rankings, which will be determined from the Olympic ranking system on 6 March next year.’