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Aussies ride home for team bronze

10 August 2016

EQUESTRIAN-EVENTING: Stuart Tinney was unable to recapture the glory days of the Sydney 2000 Olympics but he and teammates Sam Griffiths and Chris Burton still managed to hold on for bronze in the team three-day event at Rio’s Deodoro equestrian centre.

With Shane Rose eliminated from competition in yesterday’s cross country phase, the three remaining Aussie riders had to be in top form as they entered the final day of show jumping in gold medal position.

But they faced an uphill battle after Tinney knocked down rails at four of the course’s 15 fences, recording four penalty points for each, plus a one-point time penalty, for a heavy total of 17 penalty points which dropped Australia into third position.

Griffiths had a clear round, but when the final three French and German riders did the same the  pressure was really on Burton to follow suit. 

Riding Santano II, Burton clipped two fences, including the second last, but he did well to avoid a disaster at the final hurdle where a mistake would have handed the bronze to New Zealand.

France, the only one of the top four teams to have the buffer of a fourth rider, won the gold on 169 penalty points, followed by Germany on 172.8 and Australia on 175.3.

“Last night we were dreaming of the gold medal,” said Burton. “I am disappointed but if I did it again I’d do it all the same.”

Shane Rose said: “It’s a sport that changes on its head. I felt I needed to contribute today to get the gold, but I’m delighted the boys managed to get me a medal.”

Sam Griffiths added: “It’s a sport of fine margins and I was just the wrong side of it today. The irony is I was beaten by a guy from NSW who now represents the USA (Phil Dutton).”

“I’m a bit disappointed,” said Tinney. “I wish I had ridden the first half of the round the way I rode the second half. It got better as it went on.”

The Sydney gold medallist said his mount Pluto Mio got distracted in the heat of competition.

“It’s a shame. He just needed to stay focused more on the fences really, and listening to me a bit more.”

Griffiths said: “To go clear in the Olympics is always a great thrill. It’s a real pressure situation.

“I think I’m sitting on one of the best horses in the world (Paulank Brokagh).

“She tried her hardest and I just had to tell her where to go.”

Burton said the team had “far and away” exceeded expectations and although his horse showed his greenness today he had been “a little superstar all weekend”.

“I led the Olympic Games going into the showjumping and that’s something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry,” Burton said.

“I can’t say I did anything wrong. I would go back and do it (the same) again.

“I am relieved we’ve got our teammate Shane Rose onto the podium. He has been unbelievable, the anchor of our team.”

Individual podium out of reach 

Australian horsemen Sam Griffiths and Chris Burton have narrowly missed out on medals in the Olympic individual eventing competition, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Griffiths had two clear rounds in the final phase of show jumping, one in the morning’s team event and the other in the afternoon’s individual competition.

That enabled him to climb to fourth place in the individual rankings, narrowly missing out on the bronze medal.

Burton started the day in overall first place but dropped to third when he hit two fences in the morning, recording eight penalty points. He also hit the final two fences in the afternoon round, dropping him to fifth.

Stuart Tinney finished 22nd with eight penalty points in the last round and teammate Shane Rose was eliminated in yesterday’s cross country phase.

The gold medal went to Germany’s Michael Jung on 40.9 penalty points, the silver to Frenchman Astier Nicolas (48.0) and the bronze to Phil Dutton (51.8) who is Australian born and now competes for Australia. Griffiths finished on 53.1, Burton on 53.6 and Tinney 84.6.

Doug Conway

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