Evans into Olympic final; rower Puspure, swimmers and hockey team suffer Olympic heartbreaks

Jonty Evans will compete in the individual final of the eventing competition, after a clear round in show jumping saw him rise three places to 13th, writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.

Ireland finished in a very disappointing eighth, having been fifth in London four years ago.

There was a real sense of deflation surrounding the Irish eventing camp after yesterday’s cross-country phase, having gone into what is a traditional strength on a high due to an outstanding effort in the dressage, which left them in fifth position and in contention for an historic medal.

Clare Abbott and Euro Prince were first into the arena and the maths teacher certainly had her equations in order as she became the first rider with a clear round. That moved her up two spots to 36th. Mark Kyle and Jemilla had two down but still climbed two places to 33rd.

All eyes were on Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift though. The oldest member of the Irish Olympic team at 44, Evans had to endure some anxious moments when his 10-year-old gelding was asked to trot up a second time this morning by the inspecting vets.

He passed however and went on to produce a near-flawless clear round that gets him into the final later this evening, and a possible spot in the top 10.

A super-human closing effort by Sanita Puspure proved in vain as the Cork-based rower fell just short after a thunderous closing 500m in the single sculls.

As a result of the dreadful conditions for the heats that skewed some results, Puspure was thrown in with double Olympic champion Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, world champion Kim Brennan (Australia) and world championship bronze medallist Jingli Duan (China).

The big three gradually pulled away from the Latvian mother-of-two, who moved to Ireland in 2010 with her family and competed at the London Games two years later.

Puspure was three seconds behind Duan at the half-way mark. She managed to prevent that gap increasing in the third 500m before launching a desperate late bid that ended with her finishing about a half-boat length behind the fading 44-year-old Karsten.

To give an indication of how quickly Puspure finished, the 34-year-year old ended closer to the heat winner Brennan than she was to Duan entering the final quarter.

She will now have to compete tomorrow for a place in either the C or D finals and despite undoubtedly having no interest, will be expected to prevail in the third tier.

The Irish hockey team produced another brave performance against a superpower of the game, falling to a narrow 3-2 defeat against third-ranked Germany.

It was a very confident start as Ireland held possession well and John Jermyn forced a stunning full-length save from Nicolas Jacobi from an early penalty corner.

That was indicative of the issues Craig Fulton’s charges have faced at the highest level. Their standard of build-up play and conditioning match the very best, but the failure to capitalise on opportunities in the scoring zone has been pivotal.

Germany lost a player for two minutes for a green card offence but still hit the front as skipper Moritz Furste converted a penalty corner off the stick of John Jackson.

They raised the levels after that and it was a rearguard action for the majority of proceedings, with world goalkeeper of the year, Davy Harte displaying all his magnificent array of preventative measures.

They went in level at half time though, thanks to an unstoppable reverse shot by Eugene McGee, who had put into his own net against Netherlands.

The third-ranked team of the world resumed with renewed vigour and Furste restored their advantage from another penalty corner and Martin Zwicker added a third.

Ireland did create a couple of chances themselves that bore no fruit until Michael ‘Mitch’ Darling scored a brilliant goal with just over a minute remaining.

There wasn’t enough time to create another opportunity but Ireland have produced enough in their three games to date to indicate that they possess the wherewithal to win the last two games and against Canada and Argentina to sneak into the top four that will reach the quarter-finals.

Shane Ryan returned to the pool for the 100m freestyle and swam his fastest time of the year of 49.82 but that was nowhere near quick enough to make the semi-finals.

Nicholas Quinn was also back for his strongest event, the 200m breastroke and the Castlebar man won in 2.11.67 but with the fastest swimmers to come in the seeded heats, he was unable to make the top 16.

KEYWORDS: olympics, sport


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