Chinese teenager and Eton schoolboy Alex Hua Tian caught the public imagination last year with his quest to ride for the host nation in the eventing at the 2008 Olympics.
Alex, 18, started 2008 with four brand new advanced rides and the task of qualifying them for the Olympics — a daunting task indeed, even though as the home nation’s rider he was only required to make the minimum qualification (a qualifying round in both a CIC*** and a CCI***).
With a brand new “bling” Team China Lehel lorry, Alex and his four horses travelled the world on his quest, from Portugal to Poland, France, Italy and Burnham Market.
As Clayton Fredericks, who along with Lucinda Fredericks and Jane Gregory took on the challenge to train Alex and his horses, said: “It was a vertical learning curve!”
Although the goal was just to qualify as the host nation rider, Alex surprised everyone by qualifying in his own right and reaching a world ranking of 21 in June 2008. All augured well for the Olympics, where he would be first ever equestrian competitor for China. The Chinese press went wild, calling him “One in a Billion”.
At the Olympics Alex made an excellent start in the dressage, scoring 49.6 despite a protest during his test. But as H&H reported, it didn’t go so well across country:
“There was universal sadness when he fell off across country at fence eight, he Yu Hua Tai Rocker but, again he showed great maturity. ‘It was my fault and I am hugely disappointed. I was half a stride out and I made the wrong decision, asking him to take off too early. But I have learned a lot from these Games.’”
After the Olympics, Alex was back to school and he has spent the past nine months chained to his books finishing his A levels. Now he’s back eventing, preparing for a new campaign, with the World Games, the Asian Games and 2012 firmly in his sights — as well as university and a role as ambassador for the Red Cross in China!