O'Connor jumps in for bronze medal
BET YOU didn’t see that coming. Such an incredible moment of Olympic triumph and redemption rolled into one that only Cian O’Connor himself could have believed it.
And believe he did. The determined man from Ratoath won Ireland’s first show jumping medal after two spectacular rounds in Greenwich Park yesterday, followed by a jump-off to decide the colour. In the end bronze glistened every bit as much as gold; and 32-year-old O’Connor had the smile to prove it.
His horse, Blue Loyd 12, looked pretty happy too, surely sensing he had also delivered the performance of his young life. That it all happened not long after Katie Taylor’s victory ensured at least silver or gold made O’Connor’s success all the sweeter.
Many Irish supporters might have missed it, but for those of us in Greenwich Park it made for sporting drama of truly Olympian order.
“Amazing,” said O’Connor, clutching his bronze medal as if he had found a long lost treasure, and which in some ways he had. His disqualification from Athens eight years ago, after winning gold on Waterford Crystal, who later failed a dope test, made this all about journey and destination.
“As for redemption, well, maybe,” he added. “Athens was eight years ago now, but it certainly proves that I can deliver on the big day.”
His triumph came against incredible odds too. O’Connor’s place in London was uncertain until the eve of the Games. Ireland’s original selection in the event, Denis Lynch, appealed against his sudden removal last month after his horse, Lantinus, failed a hypersensitivity test.
O’Connor didn’t qualify for the final and was called only as first reserve after the late withdrawal of Sweden’s Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s horse, Casall, which failed the vet’s check.