China's Rio-bound Hua Tian still 'one in a billion'

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Chinas Rio-bound Hua Tian still one in a billion
Alex Hua Tian hopes to proves a point at the Games.

London - Alex was understandably distraught when he was thrown from his horse at the 2008 Beijing Games

By Reuters

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Published: Tue 10 May 2016, 4:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 11 May 2016, 12:56 AM

Alex Hua Tian was understandably distraught when, competing in three-day eventing as China's first and only Olympic equestrian, he was thrown from his horse at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Now 26, and with Rio firmly in his sights, the tall rider with the 'one-in-a-billion' nickname feels that painful experience may ultimately have been all for the best.
"It was a fairy tale really, and the fairy tale ended when I fell off in Hong Kong at the cross-country," he told Reuters during competition at last weekend's prestigious Badminton Horse Trials.
"It was a real heartbreaking moment personally for me ... but without that experience and investment I wouldn't be here now, doing it professionally.
"Although at the time it was a really devastating blow ... it's something that I have to thank a lot for because it gave me a taste but it didn't give me everything. And it's certainly given me the drive to keep pushing."
The main aim for Rio, he said with a self-deprecating wince, was not to fall off.
Joking aside, the bigger mission is to help develop the sport in China and continue his presence as a pioneer rather than building up any great expectation of finishing in the medals.
"Traditionally, Chinese athletes are heralded when they are successful and dropped when they are not," he said. "With equestrian sports, we are trying to educate people that there is far more depth to the sport than just performance and success.
"I don't want the public in China expecting me to go out there and win a gold medal and be disappointed when I don't. Because I'm not going to."

Alex Hua Tian hopes to prove a point at the Rio Games
Alex Hua Tian hopes to prove a point at the Rio Games

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