Are you kidding me? Seriously? I feel like I’m stuck in a Ziggy comic strip. Or the Ziggy card I once saw that said “it’s always darkest before it becomes pitch black”. Today, as many of you already know, Tiffany Foster was disqualified before participating in the first round of the team show jumping (yesterday’s not-really speed class, it turns out, didn’t count at all for the teams except to affect the draw). The reason? Hypersensitivity. Now, I have to be careful what I say because there has not yet been an official EC statement. Of course if the COC decides to issue one there is no counting on it not to have some kind of catastrophic error like the one about Hawley being ‘thrown from her horse’. I blogged about that a few days ago, but I foolishly posted it under blogs and not Straight-Up, so you very well may not have seen it. If not, please do have a peek because it illustrates how important it is for an organization like the COC to get their facts straight in an offical statement that goes into the hands of the mass media – which they didn’t in their post-cross country statement about Hawley.
Here is what I can say right now about what happened to Tiffany. Yesterday, we were led to believe, all the horses in the Olympic Show Jumping received thermography testing for hypersensitivity. There was nothing of any remark that we know of with any horses. Today, while Tiffany was walking the course with the rest of the team, the FEI veterinary team went into the stables and examined the Canadian horses, determining that Victor was hypersensitive on his front left leg. Tiffany returned from the course walk to be told she was was disqualified. The horse was not removed from his stall or jogged for soundness (memories of Sapphire in Geneva are flooding back).
Torchy spoke to us in the mixed zone and said Victor has a very small scrape at the coronet band, and as he says, if you poke a scratch 50 times, it would make anyone flinch. And of course there may be a bit of heat, since it is a wound, however small. Now, a disqualification for hypersensitivity is a ruling for which there is no appeal, but the Canadian Team appealed immediately based on what they called the ‘misapplication of a rule’. The hearing was heard quickly, while the horses continue to jump in the class. Tiffany tacked up and started to warm up, in case they would rule in her favour. But what were we thinking? One arm of the FEI throwing out a disqualification made from another arm? Yeah, right. So Tiffany was treated to a second round devastation instead of a first round of show jumping when the FEI said they upheld the decision to disqualify her.
I saw Tiffany walking with the team support squad as they made their way to make their appeal. She was flanked by Torchy and Eric, who kept putting a reassuring arm around her. What an Olympic debut. As frightening as Hawley’s fall was, as disappointed as I am for Rebecca, Peter and Michele, and as sad as I am about what happened to David (and by extension the Dressage Team), this tops the scale for me. I can’t even begin to imagine her feeling of frustration and impotence in the face of the whims of a sports federation with Godzilla-like power over her fate.
I’ve just learned that Princess Haya has decided to call a press conference in 90 minutes. If anything of substance comes out of it I will come back and post again immediately after. I’ve already got a long list of questions that’s getting longer as I sit here and stew.
I don’t even feel like talking about the sport from today, but there is a shred of light at the end of Ziggy’s tunnel. Jill had a rail and a time fault with George, Ian and Eric went clear. There were some shockingly bad performances out there – if you can believe it, the German Titans didn’t even make it into the top eight so they are done as a team. Canada sits sixth on a total of 5 faults, with the four teams ahead of us tied in second with 4, so it’s not an exaggeration to say we are still in striking distance of a medal. And wouldn’t that be sweet? Tiffany would get to stand on the podium and receive a medal after all. Please cross all your fingers and toes for Canada, not only because in spite of the bad luck for Tiffany we finally have the possibility of good news, but also because a medal would be a partial compensation for an athlete whose Olympic dream has been taken away.
I was going to spend my blogging time today composing a fitting response to the appallingly ignorant Toronto Star (function is form: The Star doesn’t look like a tabloid, but it sure reads like one) story by Heather Mallick yesterday. If you have a spare moment, take a look at it and feel free to let loose with comments, or as the person who thought to bring this bit of garbage to my attention did, write Ms. Mallick a letter. Maybe invite her to actually watch someone ride a horse, because I’m pretty sure she hasn’t done that.