EQUESTRIAN: Australia's four shortlisted equestrian hopefuls for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games recently gathered for an intensive two day selection camp which was held at the property of Olympic silver medallist Shane Rose.
Riders Kate Hinschen (QLD), Jake Hunter (NSW), Brooke Langbecker (QLD) and Isabella Stone (NSW) were vying for a much coveted position on the Australian Team for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games to be held in Nanjing China from 16 to 28 August.
The successful rider will follow in the footsteps of Australia's first Youth Olympic Games representative Tom McDermott and he joined the riders to mentor them and show his support.
As well as developing his riding skills, McDermott says his Youth Olympic Games experience provided valuable life lessons.
"I learnt at the Olympics to work as a team, and step out of my comfort zone. I'm usually not the most outgoing person, and my parents weren't there to for me to rely on so it made me a lot more independent and more of an individual," said McDermott.
Since winning a silver medal at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games, McDermott has hit the Show Jumping World by storm. In addition to enjoying success on the Australian World Cup Show Jumping circuit, in 2012 the 20 year old received the International Equestrian Federation's (FEI) Rising Star award, which is an accolade awarded to a young rider between the age of 14-21 who exudes outstanding sporting talent and commitment. The gifted young athlete received the award ahead of other top young riders from around the world.
‘Winning a medal at the Youth Olympics four years ago, at that time was a pretty big goal in my life, now I have other goals in my life that I am trying to succeed, like representing my country at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) and the Olympics,' said McDermott.
Although the Youth Olympics didn't exist when Shane Rose was eligible, the 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist in eventing welcomed the event.
"It's an opportunity for some of the young elite riders to get a taste of international competition early. It's a great way to get used to the environment of competing overseas and having international people around you and would be a great stepping stone for the riders here today," said Rose.
Australia's four Youth Olympic hopefuls are in their final year of school and are all planning a gap year next year to further develop their riding skills both in Australia and overseas. All of the riders agree that being selected to represent Australia at the Youth Olympics would be a dream come true.
Although each rider was aiming to prove to the selectors they had the horsemanship, ability, and skills to be selected as the soul Australian representative, the mood was friendly with all riders supporting and encouraging each other in between jumping rounds.
In the next few days the selectors will undergo the challenging task of choosing Australia's Show Jumping representative.
The Australian Olympic Committee will announce Australia's representative in Show Jumping in the coming weeks.
About Equestrian at the Youth Olympic Games
Unlike the Summer Olympic Games only Show Jumping is contested at the Youth Olympic Games and competition takes place on borrowed horses. The two day selection camp was strategically designed to replicate the competition environment that riders will experience at the Games.