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SA’s Olympic governing body says it has been forced to include horse rider Alex Peternell in the Olympic team, two days after the country’s lone equestrian entry was withdrawn.
After two trips to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS), it was confirmed last night that Peternell and his horse Asih will replace Paul Hart and his ironically named mount, Heartbreak Hill, in Team SA at the London Olympics.
Tubby Reddy, chief executive of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), said in a statement today that the national Olympic body had been told by CAS to include Peternell in the eventing discipline for the Games, which open on Friday.
Sascoc’s statement made it clear that it did not necessarily support the CAS decision. It read: “It is with regret that one of our loyal countrymen, Paul Hart, has to bear the brunt of this sad situation.”
“This decision is unfortunate as it forces upon the SA public an athlete that they do not necessarily recognise and one that they do not necessarily support,” he said.
The UK-based Peternell had approached the CAS for a second time after the court’s initial ruling to include him in the Olympic team was not adhered to by Sascoc or the South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF).
Last night the CAS ruled that Sascoc’s decision to not send eitherPeternell, or their initial selection, Hart, be overturned and it ordered Sascoc to include Peternell in the team for London.
“It is indeed a very sad day for us as a country to be instructed to select an athlete into Team South Africa against our will, but being a disciplined member of the Olympic movement we have no option but to adhere fully to this decision,” Reddy said.
On Saturday, CAS ruled in favour of Peternell, ranked 164th in the world, who objected to Paul Hart’s selection on the grounds that Hart was ranked 442nd in the world.
Hart, who left with Team South Africa last week, was withdrawn by Sascoc from the Games.
Reddy said on Monday the SAEF maintained that Hart had been the “correct choice” and a decision was made not to fill South Africa’s place in the eventing discipline.
Last night Peternell returned to CAS, again appealing against the decision, and again he was successful in his bid for inclusion.