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Judy Reynolds delighted as Irish Dressage Team qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Ann-Marie Donelan
Ann-Marie Donelan

07:43 20 Aug 2019

The Irish Dressage Team has qualified for the Olympic Games, for the first time ever.

There were three qualification places for the Tokyo Games up for grabs at the European Championships in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

Ireland's Judy Reynolds set a new Irish record score to see Ireland finish second of the eight teams chasing tickets to Japan.

Ireland were just outside the Olympic qualifying places when Reynolds entered the arena last aboard Vancouver K.

She spoke with Off The Ball following her phenomenal performance.

"I'm absolutely delighted, so, so proud of the performance that we delivered.

"To set a new Irish record in the process is amazing.

"I was confident going in that I knew we were capable of a good performance. I was in a good place going in.

"A horse is a living being and things can always change when you go into that atmosphere but he really stayed with me and stayed focused and he gave me everything he could so it was fantastic. "

Reynolds represented Ireland at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as an individual, finishing 18th.

She discussed how her experience as part of a team may be different.

"It's quite different competing on the team and being the anchor rider.

"It's a very different dynamic for me. It's something I have to learn to deal with.

"When you compete as an individual there's a lot of pressure but it's my own pressure, my own expectation.

"When you compete as a team you feel you're doing the job for everybody else as well so it's quite different but I'm looking forward to going to Tokyo as a team, it'll be great to have the support of everybody - the federation and the other riders and all the crew that are with us so I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Reynolds will be joined in Tokyo by Anna Merveldt, Heike Holstein and Kate Dwyer.

"We're actually quite an experienced team.

"Heike Holstein and Anna Merveldt are also both multiple Olympians and have a lot of experience.

"That's important when you're riding a younger horse that you can give the horse the confidence it needs.

"Our fourth member, Kate, has less experience coming into it but she did fantastic today considering."

Reynolds, who has lived in Germany for 17 years, says she's hopeful that the team being at the games will benefit the already growing sport.

"We're really gaining strength and dept of numbers coming up through the lower levels.

"There's really, really good talented horses and riders.

"I go home and train as often as I can, I train some young people and they're just so talented and driven.

"Give them 10 years and they're going to be fighting us for places on the team which is fantastic.

"It's gaining popularity everywhere, it's getting more members all the time, it's really improving the standard, a couple more years and you'll see those people coming through at the top level also."

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