Team China made history for Chinese equestrian sport as the eventing competition at the 19th Asian Games concluded by winning gold in both the individual and team events. This is the first time that the Chinese team or an individual has won a gold since equestrian sport was introduced at the Asian Games in 1982 (New Delhi), marking a significant step in Chinese equestrian sport.
Team China put in brilliant jumping rounds with none of the team members adding to the overall score of 86.80 following the cross-country phase. The running order meant that Team China were some of the last to enter the ring, building the suspense as the competition progressed, particularly as Team Japan put in faultless jumping rounds, finishing on the team cross-country score of 92.70, meaning fewer than two fences between them.
Three combinations from the team entered the jumping phase Yingfeng Bao with Newmarket Ritz, Huadong Sun with Lady Chin V’t Moerven Z, and Alex Hua Tian with Poseidons Admiral. Bao jumped in position 11, Sun in 13, and Hua Tian was the last to jump, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats as both team and individual gold was on the line for Hua Tian. The fourth member of Team China, Ruiji Liang with Kiriaantje, withdrew before the final phase after failing to pass the horse inspection following cross-country.
“It’s taken a lifetime to get here,” said Hua Tian. “We all started riding when we were young; we have a professional career as well. We have years to build a network of horse owners and a team. It’s not just one rider and one horse; there’s a huge network behind each of us to get here. In terms of this championships, the goal has been set… this is very much part of the onward journey.”
Team Japan stays on cross-country score
Silver was won by Team Japan with Kazuhiro Yoshizawa and Penny Grans, Yusuke Nakajima and Credit Krunch, and Shoto Kusumoto and Vick Du Gisors Jra entering the arena to jump, following Kenta Hiranaga and Duke of Sussex’s elimination on the cross-country course. The team stayed on the combined total of 92.70 following cross-country.
Faultless jumping from Team Thailand
Team Thailand maintained bronze medal position, delivering four faultless jumping rounds from all four team members: Supap Khaw-Ngam with Canadian Club M, Weerapat Pitakanonda with Carnival March, Preecha Khunjan with Clair De Lune Blanc Rw, and Korntawat Samran with Billy Elmy. Team Hong Kong finished in fourth.
Double gold for China’s Hua Tian
Moving onto the Individual Eventing, China’s Alex Hua Tian won on his dressage score of 27.00, adding no faults in the cross-country or jumping phases. This is Hua Tian’s third Asian Games, but his best finish, with him taking silver in 2014 (Incheon) and bronze in 2018 (Jakarta-Palembang).
“Competing for the first time in mainland China is extremely special,” said Hua Tian. “As soon as Hangzhou was announced as the host city for these championships, it’s been a huge goal for me and my team to be here and do as well as possible. In the past Asian Games, I’ve used it as a stepping stone for young horses… it’s always been very important to me, but this one even more so. I wanted to bring a horse that could be as competitive as possible this week. It’s very special and very rare for me to compete in front of a home crowd. I’ve always been extremely proud to represent my home country, China, but I made the decision to do this intentionally and fly the flag around the world, so to be able to come back home and do it here is very special.”
Thailand’s Korntawat Samran took silver, also finishing on his dressage score of 27.90. This is Samran’s second Asian Games with him finishing in 9th in the individual competition in 2018 (Jakarta-Palembang). The bronze medal was won by Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, who also finished on his dressage score of 28.60. Overnight bronze position was held by Hong Kong’s Annie Ho, but four jumping faults picked up in the final phase meant she dropped down to scoreboard, finishing in eighth individually.
Ho wasn’t the only athlete to pick up faults in the jumping phase with two of her teammates, Daniella Lin and Patrick Lam, also adding to their cross-country score. India’s Apurva Dabhade picked up both jumping and time penalties, adding to his final score.
“Competing for the first time in mainland China is extremely special,” said Hua Tian.
by Rhea Freeman