Singleton’s Jake Hunter will be heading to China next month to compete at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
The 17-year-old will become just the second Australian Youth Olympic equestrian athlete in history and he is very excited at the prospect of lining up against some of the world’s best young riders in the showjumping competition.
This year’s YOG will be held in Nanjing, starting on August 16, and thousands of athletes from throughout the world converge on the city for the event.
To gain his place in the Australian team Jake spent 12 months competing at events specially selected by Equestrian Australia as part of their selection process, and also attained a certificate of capability.
From this rigorous process four riders were chosen to attend a final two-day selection camp where Jake excelled, riding a horse provided by Olympic silver medallist Shane Rose.
“I am so honoured to be selected to attend, and I am extremely excited about the opportunity,” he said.
“I was thrilled to find out I was going.
“Ever since I heard about the Youth Olympics in 2010 it was something I was inspired to do.”
The YOG creates an interesting playing field for riders.
Unlike the Summer Olympic Games, only showjumping is contested and competition takes place on borrowed horses.
Jake, who is in year 12 at Singleton High School, said he was lucky enough to have a variety of different horses to practice and compete on, adding he had the experience on a lot of different types of horses which “helps me a lot”.
“Nanjing will be challenging to get to know the horse after only one ride, but it is a challenge I am really looking forward to and will make the most of,” Jake said.
He is coached by his mother, Gail Hunter, herself a highly qualified rider.
Jake has been riding all his life.
In 2012 he won the Australian Junior Showjumping Champion-
ship held in Werribee, Victoria, riding his horse Midnight Rock, and in 2008 he competed at the International Children’s Final in showjumping held in Colombia.
In Colombia, like China, he was riding a borrowed horse.
“I was pretty happy with my results in Colombia, as I was one of the youngest competitors and I came overall ninth,” he said.
Once he finishes high school Jake is planning to take a gap year and travel overseas working, as you would expect, with horses in some capacity.
He wanted to thank his mother and his sponsors Oakwood Cleaning Products, Toughrock, Prydes Easi-Feed, Nature Vet and Bombers Bits.
And just to prove how good a coach Gail is, Jake’s younger brother Cade was the most successful boy rider at this year’s Sydney Royal.
In fact, he outscored his big brother in the show jumping competition – no mean feat.