County Limerick horserider goes for gold in the London Olympics

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

A LIMERICKMAN will be flying the flag for his county and country in the London Olympics in July.

A LIMERICKMAN will be flying the flag for his county and country in the London Olympics in July.

Michael Ryan, Oola, secured his spot in the eventing team over the weekend after results from Russia went their way. This will be Michael’s first Olympic Games but growing up his dream was to represent his county on the GAA pitch.

Like many Ryans in East Limerick they have a nickname and it is Ryan “Minor” coming from the family’s strong GAA connections.

“I come from a big GAA background. It was all GAA and farming. We dealt in a few horses but it wasn’t only until much later I began thinking about Olympics.

“It started getting a bit more serious in the horse world and then it was a case of saying ‘right it’s a long term goal but it might never come off’. We were just lucky enough we got the right owners and horses and it came off,” said Michael.

Two other Irish riders have secured places on the eventing team and they are hopeful there could be a fourth place. And if it is secured by Patricia Ryan - Michael’s wife - it will be a double celebration.

She is also a top class eventer and it would be a unique story if the two of them were to compete.

“Hopefully we will get a fourth spot. She is still in the running. The final team won’t be picked until June,” said the 35 year-old.

Their journey to qualify began after the last Olympics and has brought them to every corner