Rider proves she's not just horsing around
Updated: 2011-09-21 07:58
By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Young girl shows her toughness through determined training
Tian Yu and her horse Widona, a Royal Dutch warm blood horse, at the pregame training of the 2011 China Equestrian Festival in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Sept 14. She was the only female rider in the steeplechase of the festival. [Photo/provided to China Daily]
CHENGDU, Sichuan - Her training as a ballet dancer has served Tian Yu well in her bid to be a top equestrian.
"I have learned how to balance myself," said the 16-year-old.
A member of the national youth equestrian team, Tian won a bronze in the jumping challenge at a youth event of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports in South Korea in April.
A month later, she won a gold in the jumping challenge at the International Equestrian Masters in the National Stadium in Beijing.
Tian is conspicuous at events because there are not many woman equestrian athletes in the country - many parents do not want their daughters, mostly only children, to get involved and the practice is not covered by any insurance.
"To be an equestrian, a woman has to be strong, be patient and work harder than a male counterpart," Tian said.
Because of her studies at the Beijing National Day School, a State-run middle school, Tian can only practice about twice a week after school. During summer and winter vacations, she practices in the Jingcheng Horse Club in Beijing's Daxing district every day, even on biting cold winter days.
Last winter, the skin on the back of her hands cracked and became infected because of the cold, but she did not stop training.
Even during the Spring Festival she only took one day off.
Training can be repetitious and boring, and each day Tian has to ride between four and six horses.
She became interested in horses at the age of four when she visited a horse club in a Beijing suburb and with the help of a coach sat on a horse and rode.
She started formal training at age eight.
Though she has rarely fallen, her worst accident was when she tumbled while practicing on a course in Hebei province. Lying on the field, she lost consciousness for about 20 seconds and bloodied her right hand.
When she came to, instead of crying she stood up without the help of her coach, Ji Yuping.
"Unlike other girls, Tian is strong-minded," Ji said.
Equestrian athletes in the country do not receive much education. But Tian insists she should attend college and major in literature or English.
Despite frequent competitions, Tian has distinguished herself as a top student.
The principal of her school allows Tian to finish her schoolwork and send it to teachers via the Internet when she is away for a competition.
"I like horse riding but won't make it my profession," Tian said.