German gold despite fall

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Germany won the team gold medal for show jumping at Georgia's International Horse Park yesterday by 10.25 points from the United States, while Brazil took the bronze.

Germany's victory came despite a bad fall in the first round by the world champion Franke Sloothaak, who cut his wrist so badly it needed stitching. Sloothaak came back inthe seciond round to jump,a clear and help Germany to take the gold.

Britain finished a disappointing joint 11th out of 19 teams. A disastrous first round had left the team on a score of 24. Fortunes improved marginally in the second round with a superb clear from Geoff Billington - the only clear round of the day from a British rider.

Nick Skelton with Show Time improved on his first round score of eight faults when he just made a mistake at the water in the second round. But John Whitaker, whose first-round performance was delayed by nearly two hours because of a torrential rainstorm, was unlucky to knock down the very last fence but he achieved Britain's best score in the first round.

Unfortunately he ran into trouble in the second round when Welham knocked down fence 10, a big Oxer, and then refused at the last fence. When he did jump it, at the second attempt, he knocked it down. Fortunately Whitaker, Skelton and Billington should still qualify for Sunday's individual competition.

Michael Whitaker had two unhappy rounds on Two Step, collecting 16 faults and then 12 more, and will not go through to the individual competition.

The appeal committee of the international equestrian federation, the FEI, has decided to refer the allegations made by the German rider Matthias Baumann of illegal practices by the Argentinian show jumping team to the FEI's judicial committee.

Following a visit to the pre-Olympic training site at Pine Top Farm, the scene of the alleged wrong-doings, Professor Vittorio de Sanctis, head of the Olympic appeal committee, said: "We feel that there is enough evidence for us to continue the inquiry, and we are handing the matter over to the judicial committee."

It is unlikely that a decision will be reached until after the Games, but should the allegations be proved the Argentinian team would be disqualified from these Olympics.

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