Olympic bronze medallist Cian O’Connor has won Beijing’s World Cup show jumping class, making him the first non-Chinese competitor to win the event.
More than 40 international competitors took part in the class. Due to quarantine restrictions the riders were allocated Chinese-based horses. Riding Wavanta, 32 year-old O’Connor also recorded the only double clear round in the international event, beating Chinese national Bian Baciren into second place, with Dutch rider Edwin Smits finishing third.
O’Connor, who has been in China for the last week, said after the competition: “I am absolutely thrilled to win this major event here in China and perhaps contribute to the very encouraging relationship which is emerging between China and Ireland in regard to our respective horse industries.
“The talent, enthusiasm and love for the horse was evident to see in the Chinese riders. These attributes can be further developed and nurtured with good quality coaching and a long term structure which could ultimately culminate in these riders being on the Olympic podium themselves at future games,” the Irish rider said.
Congratulating O’Connor on the Irish triumph, Horse Sport Ireland chairman Joe Walsh said: “This is a terrific achievement for Cian, and enhances Ireland’s developing profile as a major sport horse nation in the People’s Republic of China. We look forward to further co-operation with them in the future.”
The venue for the World Cup competition, Beijing International Equestrian Club, is one of China’s main equestrian venues. The Equestrian Director is Galway native Austin Melia.