Chinese equestrian Alex Hua Tian sets sights on 2023 Asian Games
Riding toward victory
Published: Apr 10, 2023 10:36 PM
Alex Hua Tian performs in the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships in Italy on September 16, 2022. Photo: IC

Alex Hua Tian performs in the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships in Italy on September 16, 2022. Photo: IC

Chinese equestrian Alex Hua Tian Photo: Sun Wei/GT

Chinese equestrian Alex Hua Tian Photo: Sun Wei/GT

In just a few short months, the highly anticipated 2023 Asian Games will take place in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. One athlete who is gearing up for the event is Chinese equestrian Alex Hua Tian.

Hua, who made history in 2008 by becoming the first ever Chinese Eventing Rider in Olympic history and the youngest Olympic Eventer in world history, is now setting his sights on the Asian Games in September.  

Ready to compete

In an interview with the Global Times on Friday, Hua expressed his excitement for the upcoming competition, saying, "I am really excited about Hangzhou. It will be my first time ever competing in the Chinese mainland, and the second time ever in Greater China."  

"I've got a really great team of horses at the moment. There's been a lot of anticipation, we are ready to get there and do our best job," Hua said.

The 19th Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, and athletes and horses from more than 20 countries will come to compete in dressage, show jumping and eventing.

When asked which horse he plans to bring to Hangzhou, Hua said he currently has two qualified horses, and several new horses as well. "A few things need to come together. Closer to the time, I will start to make a selection," he said, speaking passionately about his horses, detailing their individual personalities and the different Chinese names these quirks have earned them. 

Hua and his horse Jilsonne Van Bareelhof, or Chocs, currently are second in the Individual Olympic Ranking with 75 points, according to the latest news from the The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).

In the competition held in March in Montelibretti, Italy, Hua claimed a gold medal. This victory was an important achievement for Hua and his team, demonstrating his strength and the intense preparation he is carrying out for the upcoming Asian Games. 

"This year is a really big year. We have an Olympic qualifying period, as well as the Asian Games in one year. It's like two years crashing into one. Going to Italy was really important for the whole year strategy, going and delivering results. It takes a lot of pressure off."

As for the Asian Games, Hua emphasized the importance of the event, stating: "It's not a direct qualifier to Paris, but to have a lot of opportunities to compete in front of a home crowd at home, the first time for me, will be really special. For me, I guess it's more sort of pride and sentimentality to compete at home, which is most meaningful for myself."

An ambassador of sport

Based in Cheshire, northwest England, which serves as a training base, Hua is proud of his dual-heritage background. 

Hua was born in London to a Chinese father and a British mother. He was raised in Beijing and Hong Kong, before moving back to England. Hua began riding at the age of 5 and quickly became passionate about the sport. 

His early career highlights include winning the Asian-Pacific Junior Eventing Championship in 2006 and being selected to represent China at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and debuted in Hong Kong for the equestrian eventing dressage competition. It allowed him to make history by becoming the first-ever Chinese Olympic Eventing Rider and the youngest Olympic Eventer ever.

In addition to his Olympic achievements, Hua has also won numerous accolades throughout his career. He won the silver medal in individual eventing at the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea. He finished in 8th place in individual eventing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, which was China's best Olympic eventing result ever. What made Hua prouder was that China was ninth in their first-ever Olympic Eventing Team competition with all three athletes - Bao Yingfeng, Sun Huadong and Hua - in the top 40. Hua also won the bronze medal in individual eventing at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Apart from his equestrian achievements, Hua is also known for his dedication to promoting equestrian sports in China. 

He is a member of the China Equestrian Association and has served as an ambassador for the sport in China. He co-founded the Horsemanship Movement in 2017, a charity program for children of all backgrounds in China that teaches the values of horsemanship - respect, responsibility and compassion - which Hua believes can be extended to all relationships and can extend and improve understanding everywhere.

Around 600 children from migrant worker families in Shanghai have had the opportunity to meet horses, ride, have a stable management lesson and take the time to reflect and give feedback on what "horsemanship" means to them. The program won the FEI Solidarity Award in 2018.

Hua's achievements in equestrianism and his dedication to promoting the sport have made him a role model for young riders in China and the world.