O'Connor delight as Irish grasp Tokyo 2020 place
Ireland's Showjumping team booked their ticket to the Tokyo Olympics by winning the prestigious €2m Longines FEI Nations Cup World final in Barcelona yesterday.
The team of Cian O'Connor, Darragh Kenny, Peter Moloney and Paul O'Shea needed to beat Italy and Colombia in the eight-team grand final to clinch the last ticket, but such was their foot-perfect individual performances and total concentration, they overhauled defending champions Belgium to take the podium and make history.
O'Connor said: "I knew we could work the magic and get this job done. The guys got us through, our aim was to win, you just don't come here to qualify, you come to win and we have done it. This is an emotional day for me.
"Our main aim was to qualify for the Olympics. We will digest this and take time. I am a little emotional about the Olympics. It is something which has consumed me for the last 20 years, I hope I can go and add to my bronze from London."
O'Shea thanked the co-owners of his horse Machu Picchu, including Harry and Phyllis Agnew from Ballymena. He said: "I'm very happy with my horse, he gave 100 per cent. I thank the team of people who have secured this horse."
Ireland have now qualified for Tokyo in dressage, showjumping and eventing.
Longines FEI Nations Cup final Barcelona: 1 Ireland Peter Moloney, Chianti's Champion; Paul O'Shea, Skara Glen Macchu Picchu; Darragh Kenny, Balou du Reventon; Cian O'Connor, PSG Final. 2 Belgium four penalties. 3 Sweden 12 penalties.