Showjumper Cian O’Connor won Olympic bronze for Ireland in London – eight years after he was stripped of the gold medal in Athens.
O’Connor lost out in a jump-off for silver to Gerco Schroder of Holland as Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat took the gold.
His medal win came after a late call-up to the team when Denis Lynch was dropped after his horse failed a hypersensitivity test.
O’Connor himself was stripped of the gold medal in Athens eight years ago when his horse failed a drugs test.
In another twist of fate, the Meath man was first reserve for the final and only got in on the morning of the event when Swedish rider Rolf-Goran Bengtsson’s horse Casall was withdrawn after failing to pass a veterinary test.
O’Connor said: “I never say never, I think it’s important to be optimistic. Last night I went out for food with my wife Ruth and I was first reserve.
“I said to her, ‘I’m going to get in tomorrow; I’m going to jump a clear round.’
“This morning we got down here to the show, we had a veterinary inspection. One horse from another rider didn’t pass and that meant we got in, so sometimes things happen for the best.
“To be able to deliver at the Olympic Games is the place to do it. And Blue Loyd, he mightn’t be the biggest horse in the world, but he’s got the biggest heart.
“I’ve been fortunate with my owners, who are the O’Reilly-Hylands. We bought the horse seven months ago, with the aim of coming here.
“We came here and we delivered and we did what we were supposed to do. So, it’s a win-win situation.”
O’Connor added: “When you come into this arena the crowd get behind you. There’s a great rivalry between the Irish and the English, but they have a bit of a soft spot for the Paddy and they give him a cheer, and that’s the kind of thing that spurs you on.
“That’s the kind of thing that makes you want to do well is the public support, of which there is so much of at home.”
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