Team Singapore equestrian Maximilian Tan Chern showed great poise and skill to recover from an early scare as he finished tenth in the Individual Championship Test, Grade 1b, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Wednesday.
Canada’s Ashley Gowanlock, who preceded Maximilian, suffered a heavy fall after her horse was startled and bolted at the end of her dressage routine. The Singaporean had to wait for the medical team to take away Gowanlock on a stretcher before he could begin his session.
TeamSG equestrian Maximilian Tan waves to the supportive crowd after his routine. Photo: Sport Singapore
Then early in his routine, Maximilian’s horse, Don’s Day Dream, was also startled and reared up but thankfully the Singaporean was able to control the situation and resume.
Gowanlock was taken to the hospital but officials said she had not suffered serious injuries - nonetheless the incident was a reminder of the dangers involved in para-equestrian.
Maximilian, competing in his second Paralympics after debuting in London in 2012, believed a high wind had caused nearby flowers arranged around the course to flutter strongly and scare the horses.
“The thing you have to do is to sit back and stay on the horse and just recover and continue on with the test,” he said after his race, perfectly describing how he had coped with the situation.
“I was prepared and able to deal with it and carry on. Compared to four years ago I feel more confident and I am just really, really happy with my performance regardless of what the score is because for me, I feel like I have achieved my goals,” he said.
“When I was preparing for Rio, I set myself some goals and one of the goals I had was to do a sitting trot and I am very happy that I was able to do that in Rio in the Paralympics,” he said.
“I can’t wait for next season now,” added Maximilian who began horse riding as a part of his physiotherapy as a seven-year-old.
While in London the distances to be travelled meant that the Equestrian teams stayed close to their venue. However in Rio, Maximilian enjoyed the chance to be close to his teammates from other sports at these Games, living in the Athletes Village.
“I have been able to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the whole experience and be able to be around the other athletes. It really motivates us to do well in our own sports,” he said, adding a message for those who might be new to Paralympic sports.
“It is really important that people know that the athletes train really hard just to get here. It is not just about medals or winning but really about giving their all and giving the best performance they can give,” he said.
TeamSG equestrian Maximilian Tan and his mother, who was proud to see her son perform in Rio 2016. Photo: Sport Singapore
Maximilian’s mother, who was present to watch his competition, was thrilled to see him in action.
“It is really awesome, so fantastic. He qualified and he is here in Rio and that is a dream come true actually,” she said, noting that her experience has been entirely positive, particularly thanks to the host nation.
“The people have been so good here. We heard so much about this and that beforehand but everything has been great,” she said.
Team Singapore’s focus in Equestrian will turn on Thursday to Laurentia Tan and Gemma Rose Foo in the Grade 1a, Individual Championship Test.
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