Tokyo Olympics 2020: Ireland Announce Official Equestrian Squad

Published 07/14/2021, 5:07 AM EDT
Ireland’s Cian O’Connor celebrates with his bronze medal after the Individual Jumping Final B at Greenwich Park, on the twelfth day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)


Ireland had a controversial path to the Tokyo Olympics 2020, with their equestrian at the center of it all. The Irish dressage team pursued legal action after being shunned from going to the Olympics, but failed. However, the nation confirmed its entire squad for equestrian at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

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Irish eventing squad for Tokyo Olympics 2020

Torches are pictured during the torch kiss event, after the relay on public road was cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, during Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay celebration in Sammu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, July 1, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Ireland confirmed a star-studded lineup for the eventing competition in Tokyo. Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson, Sarah Ennis and Austin O’Connor will represent Ireland in the Land of the Rising Sun. Three out of the four names will make their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.

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The highest ranked member of the Irish eventing team is Cathal Daniels. The world #18 took to Instagram to post a video of his horse, Riogan Rua, a fourteen-year-old mare training for the upcoming Games. Another debutant on the team is Sam Watson, son of the legendary John Watson.

Sam won silver at the 2018 World Championships in Tyron, and will look to repeat that success in Tokyo. Alongside him is Sarah Ennis, the 46-year-old veteran and Watson’s teammate at the 2018 World Championships. Watson and Ennis rank at #51 and #77, respectively in the FEI eventing rankings.

The only former Olympian on the eventing team is actually the reserve, Austin O’Connor. Although he ranks at #230, his prior experience at the Olympics will go a long way in guiding the team to a decent finish.

Who will represent Ireland in the dressage team?

The Irish dressage team had its fair share of trouble in the past weeks. After securing qualification in the team dressage competition after decades, their High Performance Director Johann Hinnemann determined the team wasn’t ready for the Olympics. As a result, the nation did not send a team to the Olympics.

They will send an individual rider to Tokyo, and that privilege goes to Heike Holstein. A pupil of the legendary Reiner Klimke, Holstein has decades of experience in dressage and has competed in three Olympic Games in individual eventing. She even commented on her qualification to Galway Bay.

“I am delighted to be representing Irish Dressage as an individual at the Tokyo Olympics. The last year and a half has been a roller-coaster and hard on us all and the Olympics is an event that unites the world in solidarity and sportsmanship.”

“I bred Sambuca and during her younger years until now, I always wished and aimed to ride her at the Olympic Games. I could not partake on this adventure without the support of the Team, Dressage Ireland, HSI , the OFI and my sponsors. It takes an army and I hope we do Ireland proud.”

Show jumping team can make Ireland proud at the Tokyo Olympics 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 08: Cian O’Connor of Ireland riding Blue Loyd 12 celebrates in the Individual Jumping Equestrian on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Park on August 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The crown jewel of the Irish equestrian team is a star-studded show jumping squad. Led by Rio bronze medalist Cian O’Connor, the Irish show jumping team might be a dark horse at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

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Alongside O’Connor is Darragh Kenn, the world #9. Kenny recently edged out Jessica Springsteen to claim the winner’s cheque at the CSI4* Games in St. Tropez-Grimaud, and will ride VDL Cartello in Tokyo.

World #22 Bertram Allen is a former World Champion making his Olympics debut. Rounding off the Irish jumping squad is Shane Sweetnam, the world #33. Will this team of all-stars clinch gold, silver or bronze at the Tokyo Olympics 2020?

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Nathan Fulgado

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Nathan Fulgado is a WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports. Having published close to 1000 professional wrestling articles, Nathan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier's College. He has previously worked at Free Press Journal as a local journalist.

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