It looks like not going to the Olympics is big news after all. Of course I knew why the media was all over the young Saudi woman not making the show jumping team like so many fat kids on so many Smarties. It would have been a giant leap for Arab woman-kind if she had made the grade. Now there is a whole slew of new announcements of London tickets that failed to materialize.
At the top of the disappointment leaderboard is Dominican dressage rider Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, whose national federation fought a brave but ultimately losing battle against the FEI and the Brazilian federation. I have written copiously on the case, which has dragged on for over four months. All you need to do is scroll through any number of my posts of the past several months to see the details if you aren’t already familiar with the sorry story. The latest news is not official, but I have had reliable word that CAS ruled in favour of the FEI, which apparently came out guns a’blazing at the CAS hearing this past Monday. Funny, that. The FEI not only didn’t bother defending the eight month suspension they imposed on the Saudi Show Jumpers (which was subsequently overturned by a certain Mr. Mew at their two-for-one CAS hearing), they also waived their right to a 20 day period to prepare any defense, which enabled the fast tracking of the Saudis’ return to the all-clear so they could get ready for their trip to London. The Dominican protest on the other hand, (which hinged on the very real fact of six Brazilian Olympic qualifiers that failed to meet the FEI’s own requirements), was put on the slow train, so that the FEI legal department could gird their loins and sharpen their tongues. I will say one thing for CAS. They are consistent, insofar as each of their decisions is opposite to what I concluded was the right one.
Coming in second place on today’s list of people not going to London is the result of another CAS case, that of Hayley Beresford, who was left off the Australian Olympic Dressage Team. I don’t know the details of this one, because I haven’t been following the thunder down under surrounding the dressage team selections. But I guess the facts speak for Hayley, who was the top placed Aussie at Aachen these past two days, ahead of the Oatley cousins who have both been named to the team. In addition, Hayley was officially the third highest scoring rider in the Aussie qualifications, so it sure does seem like some cheating went on at that particular poker table.
The Aussies are in the running to win the gold medal in a brand new event called The Most Disgruntling Team Selection competition. After the Aussie Eventing team was announced, several unidentified athletes filed an appeal against the selections. You can read about that and lots of other juicy pre-Olympic news on Horse and Hound’s super groovy dedicated Olympic news page. In case you are still skeptical – as I was a week ago – of the newsworthiness of not going to the Olympics, check out the three stories that top today’s news on the H&H page. They are all about people who are unwillingly giving London the pass, starting with the father of Syria’s first Olympic Equestrian, 18 year old show jumper Ahmad Saber Hamcho. Turns out Father Hamcho is not welcome in Londinium since he has ties to the brutal Assad regime that is wreaking havoc by the thousands in Syria. Also invited not to show up at the Olympic party is the head of Syria’s Olympic Committee, for the same reason. Maybe Syria should put its Olympic Committee on hold until it stops killing its own people. It seems a a tad absurd to be trumpeting fair play in sport while massacring women and children.
The two big hits Germany’s Show Jumping and Dressage teams have taken are numbers two and three on the H&H news page. Ludger Beerbaum has pulled the ominously named Gotha out of Olympic contention, saying she isn’t fit enough. But even bigger and badder news for Germany (which has no shortage of jumping horses and riders who are quite capable of podium performances for Team Deutschland) is the announcement that Matthias and Totilas are off the dressage team. The story, as amply documented on Eurodressage, is that Matthias has mono, aka ‘the kissing disease’. If Matthias really has mono he has my sincere wishes for a speedy recovery and my heartfelt condolences at the lousy timing of having his body turned into a microbe farm. And why do I preface my sympathy with the world’s biggest little word, ‘if’? Well, because there is a little teeny weeny red light flashing in the depths of my brain. It blinks on whenever I suspect the possibility of an official reason for something not being the same as the actual reason. Come on. Don’t tell me you didn’t think the same thing, even if it was just for a fleeting instant.