Irish hopes of qualification for the 2012 London Olympic Games suffered a severe setback with the news that Tipperary-man Denis Lynch has ‘ quit’ the Irish team and could be tempted to ride for Germany in future
(though that would be most unlikely to happen before London 2012 due to F.E.I international regulations. ‘Irreconcilable differences’ over team tactics appears to lie behind Lynch’s decision. Show Jumping followers will be aware that Lynch’s wife is German and he worked there for nigh on 16 years. Married with one Child , the Lynches live in Muenster.
In the Irish Examiner, the 34 years old Lynch, he tells of his disillusionment with the Irish team Management, particularly Splaine, who will continue in his present role,it was revealed at the weekend until after the London Games. Though acutely aware this may be perceived as unpatriotic, the Tipperary man says to go on would do ‘a disservice to himself and his country’.
He told the Examiner : “I cannot give the same consideration to the team as I have previously. The team must come first, not me, an individual, and if I cannot give the same commitment, there is no point in continuing.
“I have spoken with Horse Sport Ireland and I don’t think we can achieve anything at the moment. The relationship between myself and Robert has broken down, but manager/athlete situations like these occur in all sports. I have to recognise our relationship is poor and this could definitely affect the team in the future. So I have to question my involvement,” said the 34-year-old.
He was particularly disappointed that Ireland did not win a medal as had been hoped in last year’s World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and failed to qualify for the London Games.
“I was really disappointed with my own personal performance, but also I was disappointed with us as a team. I think a lot more could have been achieved and I put our failure down to poor tactics. It was great to win the nations cup in Aachen and as a team we had a reasonable year, but in my opinion, we failed in our one major goal: to qualify for the Olympics.”
Would he consider riding for Germany? : “Why not? My wife is German and I have lived and worked here for 16 years. There have been conversations with officials from the German Federation, but nothing has been decided yet,” said Lynch.
Lynch, however, went on to suggest that his preference would be to ride for Ireland: “I have always considered it an honour and privilege to ride for my country and I would not rule out riding for Ireland again in the future.”
His decision , if confirmed , is a huge blow for Ireland, with the Europeans in September holding out the last hope for qualification for next year’s Olympics. Just before Christmas in a week of great success for Irish show jumping, (especially Jessica Kuerten) , Lynch, piloting the Thomas Straumann-owned Lantinus, was only beaten to the €30,000 winner’s prize by Germany’s Janne-Friederike Meyer, but Lynch saw off a late challenge from former World number one Ludger Beerbaum, who finished third.
Splaine has been Ireland team manager since 2006 and his job – he manages the team, in the Meydan Nations Cup Series, along with selection responsibilities for World Cup shows. Lynch’s decision comes only days after Horse Sport Ireland opted not to activate a break option in Splaine’s contract, so he will be in charge until the end of 2012 inc the period up to and during the London games Yesterday, Splaine would only say: “It is not my policy to discuss team matters in the media.”
Lynch continues to be, as he has been for some years, one of the most consistent performers on the European circuit and has a strong team of horses at his disposal. . He was a member of the 2008 Beijing Olympics team , when his horse was one of five to fail a test for capsaicin. To change nationality is a major step, notably because it brings with it a two-year moratorium on competing for the rider’s new country at European and World Championship level as well as in Nations cups, but at Olympic level the I.O.C rule is 3 years which is almost always stringently applied.
In the case of non-Olympic competition the F.E. I has said there is precedent for the waiting period to be waived though they would not say if they had been approached yet in the Lynch case – highly unlikely one would have thought.
It is hard to believe that there are not one or more other issues involved here, apart from those involving Splaine and it will be interesting to hear from the relevant Irish authorities especially Horse Sport Ireland when they officially comment later today. This story is likely to ’run’ and ‘run’ for some time yet.