t’s been four long years since the last Asian Games were held in Incheon, South Korea, and we’re chomping at the bit for more action. From August 20th to 30th at the Jakarta International Equestrian Park in Jakarta, Indonesia, Asia’s top riders will battle it out to become the highly coveted Asian Games Champion - it has quite the ring to it, doesn’t it?
Since 1950, the Asian Games - also known as Asiad - have been held every four years in the even years between the Olympic Games. Surpassing the Olympics in mass, the Asian Games is the largest sporting event in the world with 12,000 athletes competing from 46 countries in 40 different sports. That’s a lot of people!
Making its first appearance in 1982 (temporarily taken off the docket in 1990), equestrian has been a staple sport and crowd favorite at the Asian Games since.
With equestrian dominant countries such as Qatar, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia in attendance, it’ll be a battle of the gauntlet to see who comes out on top in the three disciplines of show jumping, dressage, and eventing. Who will you be rooting for?
1. Will South Korea Top the Medal Table Again?
At the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea, the home team advantage was in full effect as South Korea topped the Medal Table (in equestrian sports) by winning a total of six medals – four gold, one silver, and one bronze. That’s a solid four medal advantage over the runner-up country, Saudi Arabia, who took home two medals – one gold, and one silver. With such dominant eventing and dressage performances from the last games, will they be able to do it again this time around?
South Korean Eventer, Hong Won Jae.
2. Equestrian is Gaining Popularity Throughout the World
Horseback riding, no matter the discipline, isn’t the most popular sport available to the Asian population. Since the creation of the Asian Equestrian Federation in 1978, and a newly developed interest in making the sport more available and accessible to people, (thanks Ludger Beerbaum!) more people and countries are falling in love with horses. With smaller countries such as Kuwait, Taipei, and Brunei in attendance, we’re quickly seeing the equestrian sport growing into all parts of the world.
Kuwaiti show jumper, Yara Al Hunaidi.
3. Winners Return to Defend Their Titles
Two out of the three individual gold medalists will return to the Asian Games to defend their titles. In order to stay focused for the 2020 Olympic Games, individual dressage gold medalist from the 2014 Asian Games, Hwang Young-shik will not be competing. However, looking to win the gold again will be South Korea’s Song Sang-wuk in eventing, and Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Sharbatly in show jumping. Who will take home the top honors this year? Stay tuned!
Saudi Arabian show jumper, Abdullah Al Sharbatly.
Feature photo by Erin Gilmore.