SHOWJUMPING riders Nick Skelton and Tim Stockdale labelled some of their fellow Olympic competitors as ‘unsporting’ after teammate John Whitaker, from Huddersfield, was not allowed to compete for Great Britain in the team showjumping final in Hong Kong.
Having started the day in fourth and well placed for a shot at the medal places, Britain finished seventh in the end with 37 penalty points, 10 behind Norway in the bronze medal position.
The United States won gold after coming out on top in a jump off against Canada, who consequently won silver.
But the British team were hamstrung from the start having been unable to use four riders after John Whitaker and his horse Peppermill were ruled ineligible to compete.
Teams are allowed four riders but only the three best scores count towards the final team score and although Whitaker had been unable to ride the previous day due to a problem with Peppermill, they were both expected to be allowed to participate yesterday.
But seven of the nine competing teams lodged a protest to the International Equestrian Federation’s appeal committee against his eligibility and shortly before the second round of the final they ruled the Huddersfield-born rider was ineligible.
Consequently Britain were reliant on their other three riders to all jump good rounds in order to stay in contention for a medal.
Skelton, on Russel, picked up 13 penalty points overall before Stockdale, on Corlato, scored eight and though Ben Maher jumped a superb clear round it was not enough.
“It is all about sportsmanship at the Olympic Games,” said Skelton. “We are not cheating and it is ridiculous.
“I wouldn’t want to win on a technicality, I would want to win fair and square.”