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TOMORROW (Sunday July 1) Ireland¹s Dermott Lennon will compete for the Individual medal at the Senior European Show Jumping Championships at Arnhem, in the Netherlands.

Yesterday (Friday) the Irish team of Kevin Babington, Jessica Kurten, Peter Charles and Dermott Lennon beat 13 other nations at Arnhem to take the European Championship Gold Medal for the first time ever.

The European Championships are third in stature only to the Olympics and the World Championships, and the only team medal ever won there by Ireland was in 1979, when Lts. Gerry Mullins, John Roche, Capt. Con Power and Eddie Macken took Bronze. The only Individual medal previously won by Ireland was when Peter Charles took Gold in 1995.

Lennon (32) from Loughbrickland in Co. Down, was a star competitor on the Irish show jumping teams last year when they won the Samsung Nations Cup Series for the first time it its history, but this is only his second year on the senior international jumping circuit.

Earlier this month, he took £55,000 in prize money when he won the prestigious Modena Grand Prix at the Pavarotti International Horse Show in Italy.

In Arnhem, Lennon currently lies Third of 25 qualifying riders for the Individual Medal, behind Holland¹s own Jan Van der Schans and the German ace Ludger Beerbaum. The other three Irish riders are also qualifiers for Sunday¹s Individual Championships, but currently lie in Eighth (Kurten), 18th (Charles), and 24th (Babington).

The Audi Grand Prix, which will be the final decider of the Individual Medals, begins in Arnhem at 13.30hrs on Sunday (Netherlands time is + one hour GMT) and Lennon is third last to jump on the Irish-bred mare <Liscalgot>, the same horse he rode in Modena, and which also gave him the vital clear round that clinched Ireland¹s team Gold Medal on Friday.

After the team Gold Medal win, Equestrian Federation of Ireland President Avril Doyle, MEP, congratulated team members and their Chef d¹Equipe Tommy Wade individually, and added:

"With a First Place in the Nations Cup Series last year, and now a Gold Medal in the European Championships, I think it can safely be said that the most successful Irish athletes now competing on the world stage are equestrian athletes, and that Ireland's best chance of a medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics must lie in the equestrian sport sector"

Arnhem European Championship website:

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