EQUESTRIAN: Seventeen-year-old showjumping ace Jake Hunter is about to embark on an adventure unlike any other.
Hunter, from the banks of the aptly named Hunter River in NSW, has been selected to represent Australia at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China.
"I am so honoured to be selected to attend, and I am extremely excited about the opportunity," he said of the event starting on August 16th.
"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."
To become just the second Australian Youth Olympic equestrian athlete in history- and our only rider at the second YOG- Hunter excelled at an intensive two day selection camp with some of Australia's most talented young riders.
"I think everyone that attended the selection event should be really happy with how they went. Everyone rode super," he said.
The event was hosted by Olympic silver medallist Shane Rose with Youth Olympic silver medallist Tom McDermott also on hand to run riders through their paces.
"It was great being with Shane and Tom at the event. Both are very experienced riders and we learnt a lot from them both."
For McDermott, winning a silver medal at the 2010 YOG led to great things- including winning the 2012 International Equestrian Federation's (FEI) Rising Star award. Hunter hopes to emulate this success, and like 2008 medallist Rose, one day land on the Olympic stage.
"It is one of my childhood dreams to go to the Olympics, and is something I live to do.
"My goal (at the YOG) is to do the best I can, and hope that by doing my best I can achieve a good result. "
The YOG creates an interesting playing field for riders. Unlike the Summer Olympic Games, only Show Jumping is contested and competition takes place on borrowed horses. While a unique predicament, this is something that Hunter could use to his advantage.
"I am lucky enough to have a variety of different horses to practice and compete on. So I have 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."
The Nanjing field will feature 30 athletes competing in individual and continental team competitions. Both events are mixed gender and Australia will be part of Australasia in the team event.
2014 Australian Youth Olympic Team - Equestrian Section:
Jake Hunter (aged 17, aged 18 at Games)