TOKYO (Reuters) -Australia’s Olympic equestrian team were relieved on Friday after showjumpers Edwina Tops-Alexander and Katie Laurie were allowed to compete as individuals after their teammate Jamie Kermond tested positive for cocaine use.
Kermond was booted off Australia’s Olympics team on Wednesday after a test showed he had taken the drug, effectively dismantling the three-rider team and throwing the other two’s fate into the balance.
“We are thrilled with the outcome for our remaining two Jumping athletes, who have been anxiously awaiting confirmation regarding their participation at the Games,” said Australia’s Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman.
“Edwina and Katie have both worked extremely hard to earn their place on the Australian team and we are delighted they will get the opportunity to realise their Olympic aspirations.”
Tokyo will be Laurie’s first Games, alongside fourth-time Olympian Tops-Alexander. They will now compete as individual showjumpers in competitions starting Aug. 3 rather than in the group showjumping events starting on Aug. 6.
“Words cannot describe the feeling of hearing that Edwina and I could both go as individuals. It’s been a rollercoaster,” said Laurie.
Australia’s showjumpers will find stiff competition from Britain, the United States, whose team includes singer Bruce Springsteen’s daughter Jessica Springsteen, Germany and Belgium.
Egypt is sending showjumper Nayel Nasser, who is engaged to Jennifer Gates, fellow equestrian and daughter of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Stephen Coates and Muralikumar Anantharaman)