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Saudi jumping team makes Olympic cut

January 1, 2012

Saudi Arabia has secured the final qualifying slot for the jumping competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Abdullah Sharbatly on Jalla De Gaverie.
There are now 15 teams, each with four riders, qualified in the team jumping competition which takes place over three days from Saturday 4 to Wednesday 8 August at the World Heritage Site of Greenwich Park. They include the host nation and five teams, Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil and Canada, which automatically qualified from securing the top five places at last year's FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington. The Saudi team were 8th at the Games.

The Saudi team secured its place in the Olympics during the Group F (Africa and Middle East Region) FEI Select Olympic Qualification event held in the Qatari capital of Doha (December 27 - 30, 2011).

The six riders of the Saudi Equestrian team, from which four will compete in the Olympics, are: Khaled Al Eid, Ramzy Al Duhami, Abdullah Al Sharbatly, Kamal Bahamdan, HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Miteb, HH Prince Faisal Alshalan.

News of officially qualifying for the Olympics follows earlier success in Doha: The Saudi Equestrian team claimed the coveted Nations Cup and Abdullah Al Sharbatly won the Grand Prix.

Saudi Equestrian was founded in November 2009 to take the team through the 2010 World Equestrian Games and prepare for the 2012 Olympics. The Saudi Equestrian team comprises six riders, including previous 2000 Sydney Olympic bronze medallist Khaled Al Eid and 2010 World Equestrian Games silver medallist Abdullah Al Sharbatly. Saudi Equestrian has its training facility at Haras de Wisbecq, Belgium and is backed up by dedicated support staff that includes experienced trainers, management, grooms, farriers and vets.

Saudi Equestrian first qualified for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta where Khaled Al Eid, riding Eastern Knight, finished in 30th place. In the 15 years since, it has developed into a highly respected outfit that has notched up exceptional results on the global equestrian stage. That includes an Olympic medal, the second in the nation's history, at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games when Al Eid, aboard Khashm al-'Aan, won bronze in the individual show jumping event. This is the first and only Olympic medal won by an Arab or African nation in any of the three Olympic equestrian disciplines.

At the World Equestrian Games individual world show jumping championships Saudi rider Abdullah Al Sharbatly won silver in the coveted Rolex Top Four competition, the Middle East's first medal in show jumping at a World Equestrian Games.

Now the Saudis have reached their fifth Olympics in show jumping. "This is a milestone for Saudi Equestrian and our country. We are all thrilled that the years of preparation have paid off," said Saudi Equestrian's managing director, Ziyad Abduljawad.

"There are impressive and formidable show jumping teams lined up for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Saudi Arabia is proud to have the opportunity for our nation to compete on the world stage," said Abduljawad, himself a former show jumper.

Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Saud, Chairman of Saudi Equestrian Board of Trustees, said all of the country was overjoyed that the team had officially qualified to compete with the world's best in 2012.

"Our riders and horses continue to achieve impressive results in top level international events. They have earned their place along with the other 14 show jumping teams competing in the Olympics," he said.

"Horses and horsemanship have always been closely woven into the culture and history of Saudi Arabia and we are proud that Saudi Equestrian will be representing the nation in this exciting equestrian event at the Summer Olympics."

The fifteen teams in the 2012 London Olympics equestrian team jumping competition are: Great Britain, (Host Nation) Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil, Canada (2010 World Equestrian Games five best-ranked teams), Australia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Mexico, Chile and Saudi Arabia.



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