Just 30 minutes before he was due to compete, teenage show jumper Edgar Fung Ho-yuen found out his horse had gone lame. It was too late to request a replacement. With that, Edgar’s journey at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last October came to a sudden and unexpected end.
Before that event – the individual competition – Edgar was able to compete in the team event, representing Asia along with four other riders. But missing out on his only chance to jockey for an individual title at the elite sporting event was a heavy blow for the 15-year-old. All the hard work it had taken to earn his spot at the Games had gone to waste.
The memories of that day are still fresh in Edgar’s mind. Speaking to Young Post, he described being on the brink of bursting into tears after being unable to compete. But the experience also taught him a painful lesson about moving on from life’s disappointments.
“I was crushed because there is no second chance at the Youth Games,” said Edgar. “But I learned to accept it. Twenty minutes later, I was back in the arena, helping the other riders to put up fences and taking photos and videos.”
The incident at the Games has made Edgar pay closer attention to his horse’s condition during training, especially ahead of a competition. He explained that in addition to regularly checking their animals for injuries, riders have a lot of work to do around the stables, such as feeding and grooming the horses. Luckily, Edgar is no stranger to doing these chores.
“I used to go around the stable when I was a kid because my dad was a riding instructor; that’s also how I got into the sport.”
The Pak Kau College student only started riding at the age of 10, before later deciding to specialise in show jumping. While working with animals comes with challenges, Edgar found that it was his own temperament, rather than his horse’s, that held him back at the start of his career.
“Show jumping is about patience, courage and skills, but I’m not a patient person at all, so it was quite tough for me in the beginning,” said the young horseman. “Now every time I ride, whether I’m doing flatwork or jumping, I tell myself I have to wait, I have to be calm.”
After returning from a three-day training trip in Belgium last Wednesday, Edgar is all set to feature in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Asian Junior Challenge and Asian Junior Grand Prix, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday alongside the Longines Masters of Hong Kong in AsiaWorld Expo. These two new events have been created to give young show jumpers the experience of performing in an international ring.
In addition to fellow Hong Kong contestant Vincent Capol, Edgar will go up against four other junior riders from Asia, some of whom he has met before and is looking forward to seeing again. The level of talent is high, but he is quietly confident about his chances.
Edgar is already looking beyond this week’s tournaments, too. He wants to claim a major championship title in the next six months, earn a spot at a future Asian Games, and get sponsorships. To achieve these goals, Edgar knows he must strike a better balance between his sport and studies.
“Training three times a week plus frequent overseas training leaves me with little time for studying,” he admitted. “If I want to improve in show jumping, I must first come up with a new plan to balance it with my academics.”
Ever since Hong Kong co-hosted the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian events in 2008, more people have begun to take an interest in horse riding, but it is still far from becoming a mainstream sport in the city. Increased media attention, said Edgar, would go a long way in drawing more public support.
“I think the media plays a key role in promoting the sport. And because many people watch television, more shows about the sport, or even horses in general, will encourage them to find out more.”