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Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Australia became the first nations to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Tuesday (26 August). The nations stamped their passports by taking the first places in the dressage team competition at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
By the end of 2014, a further six Olympic sports will have their first qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Games confirmed: basketball, sailing, shooting, football, hockey and handball.
The German dressage team of Isabell Werth, Helen Langehanenberg, Kristina Sprehe and Fabienne Lutkemeir won the competition with a total of 241,700 points. Britain’s Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, Michael Eilberg and Jeanna Högberg came second with 231,343 points and the Dutch quartet of Adelinde Cornelissen, Hans Peter Minderhoud, Diederick van Silfhout and Eddward Gal took third with 227,400. Australian Mary Hannah, Lyndal Oatley, Maree Tomkinson and Kristy Oatley combined for 210,829 to finish tenth, but qualified their country as the best nation from Asia or Oceania in the tournament.
“It’s been very interesting, both yesterday and today, with brilliant, fantastic sport at a very high level. I want to say thanks to four young, pleasant and charming ladies who worked as a team together making us really strong,” said the head of the German team Klaus Roeser.
Will Connell, head of the British team, was equally pleased to have qualified for Rio. “As a team they only have two chances to qualify for the Rio Olympics. This is absolutely what we wanted and means that they have a two year run in to the Olympics, during which time they can bring on young horses and don’t have to worry about qualification," he said.
The World Equestrian Games will see eleven more teams qualify for Rio 2016 and three for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The six Olympic spots for equestrian eventing will be decided on Sunday (31 August) with the five equestrian jumping places defined on 4 September. The three equestrian teams qualified for the Paralympic Games will be confirmed on Thursday (August 28).
British athlete Charlotte Dujardin, who delivered a near-perfect presentation riding Valegro received the best score in the first phase.
“We wanted to show the judges what we can do,” said the British athlete, currently number one in the world ranking and Olympic champion in the individual and team competitions in the London 2012 Games.
German athlete Isabell Werth, riding Bella Rose 2, came second, followed by compatriot Helen Langehanenberg on her horse Damon Hill NRW.
The remaining Olympic berths for equestrian teams will be decided in continental qualifying tournaments, with the world rankings qualifying individual riders. Olympic host Brazil has a place automatically guaranteed in each of the three equestrian disciplines.