INDEPENDENT NEWS

SCOOP Olympic Update, Thursday, 21 Sept, 2000

Published: Thu 21 Sep 2000 03:32 PM
SCOOP Olympic Update, Thursday, 21 Sept, 2000
Article: Mathew Loh
DISASTER has again struck New Zealand's Olympic dreams with defending equestrian gold medalist and national flag-bearer Blyth Tait pulling out of the individual three day event.
Talk of a 'cursed campaign' following the problems with Silence; death of Chesterfield; and Ready Teddy's failed veterinary inspection; abounded around Horsley Park when Tait's mount, Welton Envoy, refused to tackle the second water-jump during today's rugged cross-country run.
This refusal automoatically earned 20 penalty points and after consideration the Atlanta gold medalist decided to pull the plug on a campaign that has seen disappointment after disappointment.
A gallant Tait said he had been "battling" to get Welton Envoy right and explained: " He was a little strong and I couldn't get him over the water....so I decided to pull him over and walk him home as I wasn't in contention.
"It was a tough call and I was thinking hard but the welfare of the horse is the main thing and really he wasn't as fit as I would have liked,".
Thankfully all is not lost for New Zealand as in the midst of the carnage of the cross-country - with several falls, withdrawals and injuries - 'horseman of the century' Mark Tood emerged with a clear run and ironically, considering the tabloid furore his alleged off-course recreation has caused, he remains in strong contention for a medal going into tommorrow's show-jumping.
In another Kiwi disappointment the White Sox put in a poor offensive game to lose to Italy 1-0 in what was really a must-win game.
Only four teams qualify for the medal round of the women's softball and with New Zealand behind China, Japan, Australia and the US they must now win both their next games - against Japan and the US - to make the medal round.
With poor performances and bad luck almost overwhelming the New Zealand team it was extremely refreshing to see our rowers suceed and maintain their expected progress toward winning medals.
World Champion Rob Waddell qualified first for the final of the single sculls while his wife Sonia in the women's sculls and the men's coxless four also earned a place in their respective finals.
And in other major news from Sydney 2000 champion sprinter Donovan Bailey is in severe doubt because of injury for the glamour track event - the 100 metres and French champion Marie Jose Perec has been reported to have left Sydney because of death threats aimed at her because of her rivalry with Australian track-star Cathy Freeman.

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