Alex Hua Tian made history when he became China's first Olympic equestrian athlete at the 2008 Beijing Games. He still proudly represents the country. （Photo/Xinhua）
Pioneering Alex Hua Tian appreciates nation's unbridled support
Even though he's been hailed as China's lone ranger of equestrianism, Alex Hua Tian, the nation's first Olympian in the sport, has never felt alone.
Last week in Beijing, Hua announced his preparations for the 2018 Asian Games, unveiling his new slogan - "I'm not alone" - at a media conference at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
"I have been China's sole representative at the Olympics in my sport for ten years," he said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.
"But I have been anything but lonely, thanks to tremendous support from the General Administration of Sport of China, the Chinese Equestrian Association (CEA), my family, horse owners and, of course, everyone who's followed my story since I was 18 years old at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"Without them, I would not have had the opportunities and drive to achieve my ambitions. I am so looking forward to joining our national team once again for this year's Asian Games in Indonesia."
Hua represented China at the Beijing and Rio Olympic Games in three-day eventing.
"We have been paying close attention and supporting Alex Hua Tian since the 2008 Summer Games," said Zheng Guowei, deputy secretary-general of the CEA. "We are very delighted that he will compete in the 2018 Asian Games representing China, and we will support him as always."
With all the support he has received and with five alternative mounts being prepared for future challenges, Hua, who won silver at the 2014 Asian Games, remains cautiously optimistic.
"Most of the five horses are new to my team, so these are very new partnerships," he said.
"It's really difficult for me to evaluate exactly where I am in this process at this moment - and the process between now and the Asian Games is really interesting because I will develop a relationship with them.
"It won't be a linear process. There will be ups and there will be downs. Over any period of time, things can go right or, more often, things can go wrong.
"So, until the week before the Asian Games when I pick the horse I want to take to Indonesia and I start to get the feel of how that preparation is coming together, I won't really have much of an idea. But this is the strongest team of horses I've ever had."