Olympics 2012

I earned my spot - Peternell

2012-07-25 19:03
Alex Peternell (File)

London - South African three-day eventer Alex Peternell will compete at the Olympic Games after winning an eleventh hour appeal against his non-selection.

He was initially overlooked in favour of his lower-ranked compatriot Paul Hart by South Africa's Equestrian Federation (SAEF) and Olympic committee.

But Peternell, who turned to eventing after initially training as a ballet dancer, was cleared to perform at Greenwich Park by the Court of Arbritration for Sport (CAS).

Peternell welcomed the CAS decision.

"I am relieved that this difficult episode is over and delighted to be competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games," he said.

"I intend to do South Africa proud and represent my country with all the determination that has seen me earn the right to compete in the first place."

He added: "This is of course a bittersweet moment because I sympathise with Paul Hart, who was initially chosen to compete on behalf of South Africa later this month.

"I know only too well the heartache of being told you are not going to the Olympics when you fully expected to be there."

The SAEF selection rules state that the highest ranked rider who qualified would be offered the place.

But they refused to submit Peternell's initial nomination for the Games despite an earlier CAS ruling that he was the only rider the South Africans could consider.

In its judgement, CAS said that its panel found that Peternell, who is ranked 164 in the world,‘fulfilled the three different sets of selection criteria applicable and accordingly, that he should have been nominated.'

Hart is ranked well below Peternell at 442.

Peternell hopes his victory will bring about progress in South African sport.

"This appeal was never about the riders involved, but about ensuring the correct processes are followed.

"It is the actions of the authorities involved in the decision-making process that have left both Paul and myself in this terrible position so late in the day, and my heart really does go out to him and all his supporters.

"But as hard as it may be on others, I must look to protect my own position in this, and that of my fully deserving horse and extremely supportive owners and team."

The Olympic eventing competition comprising dressage, cross-country and jumping rounds starts on Saturday.

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