Israeli equestrian show jumpers took a huge leap for the country on Sunday by qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, the first time that Israel has earned a place in the games in that sport.
Four Israeli riders took first place at the Olympic Jumping Qualifier at Maxima Park in Moscow in conditions made worse by a downpour of rain.
Team Israel’s Daniel Bluman, 29, Ashlee Bond, 34, Elad Yaniv, 41, and Danielle (Goldstein) Waldman, 34, beat riders from Poland by a single fault to secure a ticket to Tokyo next year.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Bluman told Channel 13. “It is hard for me to describe how proud I am of what we managed to achieve today.”
The event was the second of two special qualifiers for countries in Group C, the first being held in Budapest on Friday, the World of Show Jumping website reported. Israel’s group included teams from Uzbekistan, Poland, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan.
The oxers at fences three and six caused trouble for many of the competitors and only four of the riders managed to bring their mounts through the course within the 78 seconds set for the first round.
The Israeli team, riding horses Ladriano Z, Chela LS, Alvaro du Gue, and Lizziemary, finished with a score of 16, just one point ahead of Poland’s 17.
For Waldman the success was the second big celebration in a month after she got married four weeks ago.
Although 2020 will be the first Olympics to include an Israeli show jumping team, it will not be the first time that some of the team members have competed in an Olympic arena.
Colombian-born Bluman rode for Colombia in the 2012 and 2016 summer Olympics, while the team’s coach, Dutch-born Jeroen Dubbeldam, won a gold medal for The Netherlands in the 2000 Sydney Games.