Hong Kong picked up its first medal in the Youth Olympic Games yesterday. Local rider Jasmine Lai Zin-man won silver in the equestrian team jumping event at the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre.
Teams from Australasia, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America and the Caribbean, and South America took part in the competition. Lai represented the Australasia team, together with riders from Australia, New Zealand, China and Oman.
It was a tight competition as three teams - Europe, Australasia and Africa - had the same record so an additional jump-off round was needed to decide the winner. In a nail-biter, Team Australasia were beaten by Team Europe by a slight margin.
Lai was the first rider from Australasia. The venue was very quiet when she started. She looked confident and had near-perfect control over her horse Butterfly Kiss. There were some scary moments when the horse nearly knocked down the bars, but she managed to finish all her jumps without receiving any penalties.
Up next for Team Australasia was Jake Lambert who had a disappointing 12 penalties. The third competitor was China's Xu Zhengyang who put up an inspiring performance with zero penalties. The fourth rider from Oman and the fifth from Australia had four and eight penalties respectively.
Only the results of the best three riders in a team were counted, so Team Australasia and Team Europe were tied again with four penalties each. But the gold went to Team Europe as they finished in a shorter time.
Australasia clocked 154.26 seconds, compared to Team Europe, who completed their round in 141.03 seconds.
Lai was delighted to win the first medal for Hong Kong. 'My sister [Hong Kong rider Jacqueline Lai Jing-man] gave me a long-distance call to cheer me on. I am proud of the excellent job done by my team. We worked together only for a week and this is also the first time we have raced in a team with riders from different countries,' she said.
Lai's mum, Ellen Ng Ha-ping, was delighted with her daughter's performance.
'Many trainers thought Jasmine's mount Butterfly Kiss was the most difficult horse to handle. I am happy Jasmine could get along with the horse so well,' she said.