South Africa Fails to Qualify Team for Tokyo Olympics, as Did Brazil–Austria, France, Belgium Battle for Starts

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Happier days for the South African team of Tanya Seymour, Nicole Smith, Laurienne Dittmann, Gretha Ferreira that was the sale entrant in a special qualifier for an Olympia team slot. File photo. © Leanjo de Koster/digishots

MECHELEN, Belgium, Dec. 28, 2019–South Africa failed to qualify a team for the Tokyo Olympics when the last remaining combination did not achieve a required minimum score in the Jumping Mechelen World Cup Grand Prix Saturday, with no more chances before the year-end deadline. Brazil had already dropped its bid, leaving two team places open with Austria, France and Belgium leading in the battle for tickets to Tokyo in July.

Two of three South African combinations achieved qualifying results earlier this year, but Laurienne Dittmann on Don Weltino K, the last remaining hope to complete a team result were awarded 62.826% in the Grand Prix, short of the 66% minimum required.

Before this last qualifying competition, Austria had a slight lead at the top of the Olympic standings to earn a team start in Tokyo, with France close behind and Belgium still in contention.

Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United States and host Japan have already qualified to fill 13 of the 15 team places in Tokyo.

South Africa, the sole entrant in a special qualifier in October, and Brazil that took one of two qualifying spots at the Pan American Games in July, had been penciled in for Tokyo. Neither country, however, achieved enough qualifying scores.

South Africa’s campaign for what it hoped would be the nation’s first Olympic team berth was led by Tanya Seymour, 35, and Ramoneur, 17-year-old Oldenburg stallion, that competed at the 2016 Rio as an individual, the first South African Olympic equestrian.

Both she and Gretha Ferreira, 30, on Lertevangs Lavinia, 14-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, obtained required qualifying scores of at least 66% in two Grand Prix.

However, Laurienne Dittmann, 48, on Don Weltino K, 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, and Nicole Smith, 28, on Chi La Rou, 13-year-old KWPN mare, each earned only one qualifying result.