Japan Gallop Away Victorious in 18TH Asian Games
- Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also steal the limelight
By Louise Parkes
All-gold in Eventing, along with victory in Team Dressage and the silver medal spot in Team Jumping, ensured Japan was the nation with the most wins in the equestrian events of the 18th Asian Games 2018 which concluded yesterday in Jakarta – Palembang, Indonesia.
Held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle, the Asiads, as the Games are also known, is the biggest sporting event in the world with a massive 12,000 athletes taking part. Equestrian sport was introduced at the 9th Games in New Delhi (IND) in 1982, and competitions are conducted under FEI Rules.
Jacqueline Siu (35) was the show-stealer in Dressage when securing Hong Kong’s first-ever equestrian medal at an Asian Games while also realising a dream of her own. The British-based rider narrowly missed the individual podium when finishing fourth twice before. However this time around, partnering the 13-year-old JC Fuerst on Tour which was acquired by the Hong Kong Jockey Club from young German star Anna Abbalen, she climbed all the way to the coveted top step with victory in the Freestyle ahead of Malaysia’s Mohd Qabil Ambak Dato’ Mahamad Fathil (Rosenstolz) in silver and Korea’s Hyeok Kim (Degas K) in bronze.
Qabil Ambak topped the scoreboard in the Prix St Georges which decided the Team medals, but it was the consistency of the Japanese foursome that included Rio Olympians Masanao Takahashi (Fabriano) and Akane Kuroki (Toots) along with Shunsuke Terui (Alias Max) and Kazuki Sado (Djuice) that decided the destination of the 2018 Dressage team title. A second-place finish individually for 23-year-old Hyeok Kim helped Korea to silver, while Thailand’s bronze medal result was bolstered by a good performance from 24-year old Pakjira Thongpakdi (Hispania).
The Japanese really got into their stride when taking both team and individual gold in Eventing. They enjoyed a convincing 38.9 margin of victory over India in the team competition in which Thailand claimed the bronze. And to put the icing on the Japanese cake, Yoshiaki Oiwa (42) pinned India’s Fouaad Mirza and China’s Alex Hua Tian into silver and bronze on the individual medal podium.
Yoshi, as Oiwa is best known, is a three-time Olympian with many successes during his long career. And when he shared the spotlight in the medal ceremony with team-mates Takayuki Yumira (37), Kenta Hiranaga (30) and Ryuzo Kitajima (32) he wasn’t taking all the credit.
As a competitor, you do what you can – the others could have won gold without any help from me!”
Yoshiaki Oiwa (Japan)
It was a much closer affair on the individual leaderboard however when, riding Bart L JRA, his gold-medal-winning margin was a relatively modest 3.7 penalty points as he completed on 22.7 while India’s silver medallist Mirza was not far behind on his final tally of 26.40 with Seigneur Medicott. The last individual medal awarded to a rider from India went to Raghubir Singh in 1982, so there were big celebrations in the Team India camp with this result after a long 36-year wait.
Bronze medallist, Hua Tian, said these Asian Games were his “first steps on the road to the Tokyo Olympics”, and that’s a road that many of those competing in Jakarta are also hoping to follow over the next year and more.
Japan had to settle for silver in Jumping when a world-class group of athletes from The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dominated. However Abdullah Al Sharbatly (Carrera), Khaled Al Eid (Kayenna of de Rocky Mounten), Khaled Al Mobty (Desert Storm II) and Ramzy Alduhami (Ted) only edged out the Japanese by less than two points at the end of a tight competition in which Qatar lined up in bronze, almost eight points further behind.
The Saudi side were super-experienced, Al Sharbatly (35) claimed individual silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky (USA) in 2010 and team bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Al Eid (49) took individual bronze at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, and four-time Olympian Al Duhami (46) was standing on an Asian Games podium for the third time in his career. A total of 17 teams started, and it was a member of the fourth-placed Kuwaiti side, Ali Alkhorafi (28), who claimed the individual title.
Riding the 11-year-old mare, Cheril, he produced one of just two double-clear performances on the final day, the other posted by UAE’s Sheika Latifa Al Maktoum (Cobolt 8) who eventually lined up in seventh spot. Qatar’s Sheikh Ali Al Thani (35), who finished sixth individually at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, stood on the second step of the individual podium while Saudi Arabia’s Alduhami claimed the bronze.