This Saturday was a very special day for Duan Yihua and Li Yaofeng. Together with the British showjumping legend, John Whitaker, the two Chinese riders won the team jumping competition at the 6th Longines Beijing Equestrian Masters. The three showjumpers beat ten other teams, which included among others the international top riders Ludger Beerbaum, Jeroen Dubbeldam and Simon Delestre. And that in the floodlit, legendary Bird's Nest, the Chinese national stadium in the heart of Peking.
The team competition is an integral part of the concept behind the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters. “It is all about sustainably establishing the sport in China,” said Ludger Beerbaum, who founded the event together with Chinese partners six years ago. Before the event began on Thursday in the national stadium of Peking, the legendary Bird’s Nest, Beerbaum had already conveyed some of his knowledge to selected, young aspiring, Chinese riders in the scope of two training courses in Peking. It is not just about organising a show, but also about training the riders for future tasks. In addition to the equestrian training, this also includes horse management and in particular the “welfare of the horse", i.e. handling one’s partner, the horse, in a conscious and responsible way. "Here, we want to enable the young riders comprehensive access to the sport with the support of Longines,” stated Beerbaum. This is also part of the concept of the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters.
There is still a huge difference to the equestrian sport in Europe. Not in terms of the infrastructure, “the level of that is absolutely top here in the Bird's Nest,” commented Beerbaum. On the other hand, he doesn’t find it easy to answer the question that most of the Chinese journalists pose to him, namely when the top riders in China will reach a similar level to those of Europe. "Definitely ten years still, perhaps even 20," he replied and explained that the equestrian sport in Europe has developed over the course of 200 years to reach its present level. And 20 years ago, even he still “rode like a cowboy."
Source: Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters // Picture © Longines Beijing Masters/ Arnd Bronkhorst
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