Olympic Games: Equestrianism: Broome proves fitness

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The Independent Online
David Broome won his race to regain fitness yesterday when he made the deadline by the skin of his teeth to ride inthe showjumping warm-up contest at Barcelona's polo club.

A magneto pulse on the injured area of his back, plugged into a battery attached to his waist, helped Broome produce a clear round on Countryman and jump back into contention for a place in the side.

Although the competition was unofficial, manager Ronnie Massarella had told Broome that if he did not jump he would not be considered for the team championship on Tuesday.

Even with the pulse and a week's intensive treatment in the Olympic village, Broome would still not have made it without a painkilling injection from team doctor Alan Cooper when Broome's back muscles went into spasm just before the start.

Broome's injury came when he badly bruised the bottom of his back and ribcage by falling on the poles of a fence at Royan in France en route to Barcelona. He got into the saddle for the first time on Friday morning and found it a struggle. Another crisis loomed when he tried a practice jump early yesterday. 'I couldn't canter to the left,' he reported. 'The injection saved me.

Bouncing back with the resilience of a rider half his age, he had Countryman jumping out of his skin but was not entirely happy with his handling of the 13-year-old through the treble combination. 'I was a bit sloppy,' he said, 'but then I got going. I needed to increase my revs by three per cent.'

He will know by 4pm tomorrow whether his efforts have succeeded. Massarella drops his bombshell on one of his five riders prior to declaring the team of four for the draw between 21 teams.

Tim Grubb on Denizen, Nick Skelton on Dollar Girl, Michael Whitaker on Monsanta and John Whitaker on Milton are all in form so Massarella faces the most difficult decision of his 22-year run. 'One of them will want to crumple up and die,' he said. 'The selection has swung back and forth for two months but now I'm glad we've waited, they deserve every chance.'

The French dressage team suffered a blow to their chances yesterday in the team Grand Prix, which starts this morning, and the individual which follows when Corlandus, the individual silver medallist with Margit Otto Crepin at Seoul, went lame and failed the veterinary inspection.