Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top eventer too good for Asian Games

Alex Hua Tian
 Eventing enthusiasts at the Asian Games in China this week must have pondered the whereabouts of local equestrian heart-throb Alex Hua Tian.

He was there all right - but not riding. He's too good. That is, according to the qualifying standard for the eventing at the Games. The event was at one-star championship level, and was open to all horses, except those having competed in a CCI4*, during the current or preceding year.
Instead, the young rider took on a role as one of the image ambassadors of the Guangzhou Games.
He was the first Chinese to compete in Olympic Equestrian events when they were held in 2008 in Hong Kong, and he was also the youngest ever Olympic eventer, at 18 years old. He was dubbed 'One in a Billion' by the Chinese press.
Now, Alex has been charged with promoting the Games' host city, Guangzhou.
"People mostly see Beijing and Shanghai, but Guangzhou is just as significant," the 21-year-old said.
Born in Beijing to a Chinese father and a British mother, Alex started riding at the age of four and at 14 was the first Chinese person registered with the FEI.
Before he and his family moved to Hong Kong in 1994, Alex spent much of his time in Guangzhou, where his father and grandfather live.
"It was also in Guangzhou that my mom used to work and first met my father," said Alex.
By the time he became a Guangzhou citizen in 2008, he was ranked 21st in eventing in the world.
He said he was glad to see Chinese riders win silver in the dressage team event, which is "more than a lot of people expected".
It is also just one example of the growing equestrian scene in China, he said.
"Horse riding has become fashionable across China since 2008," Alex said, referring to the hundreds of amateur horse-riding clubs in China.
He had only six months to prepare and to get the necessary sponsorship for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. He fell during the cross-country competition and was disqualified during the Games, but being involved was so "intense" that it was a great learning experience for him.
Following the Olympics Alex finished his A levels at Eton College. He won the FEI's inaugural HSBC Rising Star Award last year.
He is looking forward to representing China again at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
"The Beijing Olympics brought me back to my homeland, while the 2012 Olympics means competition in the hometown of Equestrian riding," Alex said. "Both are important to me."

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