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Hong Kong rider debuts at Paralympic equestrian
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19:11, September 08, 2008

Rider Yip Siu Hong of Hong Kong rides horse Icy Bet during the Individual Championship Test (Grade II) of the Equestrian Events of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games at Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue (Sha Tin) in Hong Kong, south China, Sept. 8, 2008. Yip Siu Hong finished 18th with a score of 50.545.(Xinhua Photo)

Nelson Yip (on
wheelchair) and other athletes of China's Hong Kong pose for photos at the welcome reception of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Equestrian Events held in Hong Kong, south China, Sept. 6, 2008.

Despite the poor mark, Nelson Yip Siu-hong made a history in Hong Kong Monday as the first-ever Hong Kong rider to show up at the Paralympic equestrian.

Enthusiastic crowd applauded Yip when he entered the Sha Tin Para-equestrian arena for a Para-dressage test.

As a contender of the Grade II Individual Championship Test of Beijing Paralympic Equestrian, 40-year-old Yip partnered horse Icy Bet, greeted the judge with smile and started to trot along the competition field, making his debut at the Games.

"I think it's good, I've done my best in the competition," said Yip on a wheelchair, who felt happy about his performance although he failed to get a good result.

Icy Bet, a 20-year-old retired race horse, showed nervousness and unsteadiness during the course and Yip tried his best to appease it. Yip said it is normal that a horse feels strained while going through a test.

Despite the unsatisfactory marks he gained, Yip was delighted to have so many supporters including his friends and fellow Hong Kong citizens around cheering for him.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Henry Tang was at the arena on Monday for the support of Yip. He encouraged Yip by saying that the spirit should be the most important of all despite gain or loss.

Yip said that he intended not to put much emphasis on the outcome, adding that it was a good chance for Hong Kong to show its ability in holding a large-scale international sports event through hosting the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events.

Yip has difficulty in using his legs because of cerebral palsy.His attraction to riding began with a visit to the local Riding for the Disabled Association of Hong Kong when he was eight years old, which gave him an opportunity to learn about horses. But it was not until 2001 that he decided to take up riding.

His motivation grew after he attended a riding camp in Wales in 2002. An important success came in 2005 when he finished first in freestyle and musical dressage in the Australian Riding for the Disabled Association's National Dressage Championships.

Bee Chan Sai-kin, coach of the Hong Kong Paralympic equestrian team, said, "Yip could have done better but sometimes a horse's emotion was difficult to predict." Chan said that they will find out how they can improve.

Besides the Individual Championship, Yip will also join the Freestyle Test on Sept. 10, which will include set movements, but individually choreographed by the rider and set to music.


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