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From zero to billion: the booming growth of China’s equestrianism

(People's Daily Online)    10:49, April 24, 2018

There were only six names for China’s equestrianism on the racecourse of the Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue in 2008: Huang Zuping, Li Zhenqiang, Zhang Bin, Zhao Zhiwen, Alex Hua Tian, and Liu Lina, which has witnessed the growing pains of China’s equestrianism and the prosperity of China’s equestrian industry.

Before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, no one had jumped through the 1.6 meter Olympic-level obstacles. No one had even participated in the 1.5-meter-high steeplechase.

“With a lack of professional athletes, competition experience, and technical guidance, those riders are risking their lives to perform in front of people,” a German anchor commented.

The Chinese riders’ dedication in 2008 makes up the last Olympic item for China.

The debut performance of Chinese equestrian athletes knocked down the door of China’s equestrian industry and helped it gain pervasive popularity among Chinese people.

Photo/The Paper

On the journey of icebreaking

On Sunday, the 2018 Longines Global Champions Tour rang down the curtain in Shanghai. The excellent performances of the four young horse riders exceeded Huang’s expectations.

Unlike the courageous but anxious riders of the first generation in 2008, the recent young athletes are good enough to perform excellent in performances.

Wang Yunjing (Ella) broke the ice of China’s equestrian record by ranking 12th in the 2018 Longines Global Champions Tour, which is the best performance of China’s equestrianism in history.

According to the Chinese Equestrianism Association, the total number of China’s equestrian clubs increased from around 300 to 1,452 after the 2008 Olympic Games. Also, the total number of equestrian enthusiasts is 10 times more than it was a decade ago, reaching 1 million in early 2018. And 66 percent of the amateur horse riders are teenagers.

Moreover, incubated in the promotion of five star events, China’s equestrian games and horse industry have soared in line with the rise of horse riding popularity. There were over 50 harness shops in China by 2018, with annual sale volume of nearly 300 million yuan ($47 million).

According to the International Equestrian Federation’s statistics in February, the total production value of the horse industry is valued over 9.5 billion yuan.

Liu Huahua, a manager of a cultural company, said that the increase in harness sales signals that this high-end sport is gaining popularity among Chinese families, which implies that the increasing number of trainees are becoming the mass base of China’s equestrianism.

Photo/The Paper

Gold medal is not the goal of China

“Getting a gold medal in equestrian is not the main goal in China,” even after a decade of exploration in China’s equestrian industry, Huang said. “It is clear that equestrian sports in China are far from the top ones. We have more important things to do, for example, to let more children love horses and love horse riding. They learn respect, responsibility, and courage through such training. All the impacts are much more significant than a gold medal,” Huang added.

The road might be bumpy, but China’s equestrian industry is now developing with Chinese characteristics. “Keep fighting” for another decade, said the pioneers.

The Paper contributed to the story

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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