Alex Hua Tian

British-based Chinese event rider Alex Hua Tian was the youngest event rider ever at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He has since contested two more Olympics, finishing eighth in Rio in 2016 on Don Geniro, competed at Badminton Horse Trials and Burghley Horse Trials and won three individual medals (one of every colour) and a team bronze for China at the Asian Games.

Olympic equestrian cross-country: Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro compete for China at the Rio Olympics

Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro at the Rio Olympics.

Alex is the son of a Chinese father and British mother. Born in London, he spent his early years in Hong Kong before returning to the UK for school attending boarding school at Eton.

He was propelled into the spotlight when a private individual funded him to ride at his home Olympics in 2008. He took a year out of Eton and – under the guidance of Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks – he put together a serious campaign for the Games, buying experienced horses and travelling extensively to qualify them for the Games.

There was no fairytale ending — he fell off on the cross-country course in Hong Kong — but he had become the youngest event rider to contest an Olympics and the first Chinese equestrian to do so.

Alex finished school, flirted with the idea of university and decided to event full time. He is now based at Pinfold Equestrian in Cheshire, where he shares the yard with dressage rider Sarah Higgins.

In November 2009 Alex won the inaugural HSBC Rising Star Award from the FEI and he became a patron for World Horse Welfare in 2014.

Among Alex’s career highlights are a win in the Event Rider Masters class at Bramham Horse Trials in 2016 and eighth place at the Rio Olympics that year.

As a rider from a nation which doesn’t have a large number of experienced event riders, Alex has to prioritise a route to Olympic qualification in his competition plans during each Olympic cycle.

China managed to qualify a team for the Tokyo Olympics, where Alex finished 25th individually. He will ride as an individual at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.