For the first time, under the visionary leadership and equestrian passion of Dr Harald Link and Mrs Nunthinee Tanner, president and vice president of the TEF, a team of three Thai elite riders have qualified to compete at the Olympics.
The trio - Arinadtha ‘Mint’ Chavatanont, Weerapat ‘Bomb’ Pitakanonda and Korntawat ‘Nat’ Samran - have qualified for the team eventing discipline, securing their tickets to the July 23-Aug 8 Tokyo Olympics at the Baborowko Equestrian Festival held from May 27-30 in Poland. Nara Ketusingha is the team manager.
Eventing is a holistic test of an equestrian athlete as it combines three disciplines - show jumping, dressage and cross country.
Olympic qualification as a team is particularly difficult because all riders must qualify, as opposed to just one for individual disciplines.
The Thai national team has been strategically preparing to make their debut on the world’s greatest sporting stage for several years.
For over 10 years, the TEF has been raising the team’s standards with the aim of sending Thai riders to the Olympics.
The riders have been training with renowned French eventing athlete and trainer Maxime Livio since 2013.
Livio is an accomplished athlete in his own right with 25 wins in major FEI eventing competitions and is consistently ranked among the top French riders.
He has already guided the Thai team to win a team bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta as well as golds for both team and individual disciplines at the 2019 FEI Asian Championships held at the Thai Polo and Equestrian Club in Chon Buri.
Notably, 75% of the horses, not including the Olympic horses, that the Thai national team has used to train to qualify for the Olympics are owned by Dr Link and Mrs Tanner.
Riders will continue training through this month at Ecurie Livio Stable in Saumur, France, before moving to Aachen, Germany, next month for horse quarantine prior to the Olympics, as required by the host.
Athletes will also undergo two rounds of COVID-19 screening before entering Japan and receive daily testing for the duration of the Tokyo Games.
Spectators will not be allowed to attend the Games but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has allotted one ticket per one horse owner to attend.
As the first Thai equestrian team to ever qualify for the Olympics, and with the unwavering support of the TEF, we can look forward to seeing these rising stars compete on the world stage for years to come.