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Chambers and Abbott step up Ulster's medal bid

By Robert Jones

Published 09/08/2016

Local heroes: Clare Abbott on Europrince in the Eventing in Rio yesterday
Local heroes: Clare Abbott on Europrince in the Eventing in Rio yesterday
Richard Chambers, with Will Fletcher, in the double scull

The Irish Eventing team, featuring Clare Abbott from Hillsborough, are in eighth following a tough day of Cross Country action at Deodora Olympic Park in Rio, while rower Richard Chambers also got his quest for glory under way in promising fashion.

Irish rider Jonty Evans remains in contention to reach the Eventing individual final, while it was an excellent day for Irish breeding, with three Irish-bred horses now inside the top 10.

Just three of the 65 starters managed to finish inside the time allowed, over what proved to be the toughest Cross Country course in modern Olympic history.

Incredibly 19 combinations were either eliminated or retired on course.

Abbott and Europrince gave Ireland their first counting score, completing the course with two jumping errors and 25.6 time penalties.

Evans with Cooley Rorkes Drift then produced a brilliant clear jumping round, adding just 22.80 time penalties to their excellent Dressage score of 41.80.

Ireland's last line rider, Mark Kyle, was under pressure to deliver a counting score to ensure the team advanced to the final Show Jumping phase. A solid round from Kyle and the 10-year-old mare Jemilla, saw them finish with a single jumping error and 30.80 time penalties.

This left Ireland on a team total of 278.40 in eighth overall.

Australia lead the team competition on 150.30 ahead of New Zealand in second on 154.80, while France occupy the bronze medal position on 161.00.

Evans is in 16th place on just 64.60 penalties, with Kyle next best of the Irish in 34th and Abbott in 38th spot.

Australia's Christopher Burton is in the gold medal position, ahead of Germany's Michael Jung in second and Frenchman Astier Nicolas in third.

Horse Sport Ireland Eventing Team Manager Nick Turner said: "Clare's horse was a bit fresh and a handful, and they unfortunately had two jumping mistakes."

Meanwhile, you would think that Chambers would be used to the atmosphere and aura that surrounds an Olympic Games by now.

But as the Coleraine rower got his third Games outing underway, he admitted the nerves are even greater now despite a solid Rio 2016 opener.

Following on from a fifth-place finish in the lightweight men's four at Beijing 2008 and winning silver four years later, Chambers kickstarted his Brazilian adventure yesterday alongside Will Fletcher in the double scull.

And it proved to be a solid first outing as they came second in their heat behind South Africa in 6:25.62 minutes to advance to today's semi-final.

Overall they were the sixth fastest boat, but Chambers knows there is still plenty more to come from them.

"We have done some phenomenal stuff coming here and this race was good but not good enough," the 31-year-old said.

"For me, I didn't settle us on to the rhythm we've had in racing and in training. That would have allowed us to develop on the good start we had.

"The first 500m was as it usually is for us and it was good, the onus was on me to then drop the rate down to allow us to get the power in. I have got one of the world's strongest men sitting behind me and I didn't give him the opportunity to get that power in because I kept it ticking over too high.

"That was just the excitement of it being an Olympic Games. It was good but not good enough.

"We got a little bit over-excited. There is an element of nerves in there as well and it is just getting that first race out of the way.

"The nerves and excitement gets bigger the more you go on because you get older and realise you have got less chances.

"Every Olympic Games is different and whether it is your first, second or third you want to give a good account of yourself.

"The nerves will always be there.

"I know we can do a better job but it is a starting block.

"The start is natural, that is the speed that we have got and we didn't need to do anything differently there, we then just have to have the confidence to settle.

"I know that if we do that then we will go quicker."

When to see our competitors

TUESDAY

Clare Abbott (eventing IRE),

12.00pm; Alan Campbell (GB rowing),

12.30pm; Peter and Richard Chambers

(GB rowing) 3.00pm; Ireland

men’s hockey, 4.30pm; GB men’s

hockey, 10.00pm

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