Amazing comeback shows Hindle's hunger and power of friends

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2008, 12:00am

'Keep your fingers crossed,' one woman said.

British rider Emma Hindle gestured to her mid-section and nodded.

But the woman was not referring to Hindle's health - two months ago, the 33-year-old had an operation to remove a tumour - but to her dressage score, a 72.345 per cent that would be enough to give her seventh.

'Right,' Hindle said and looked back up to the rider competing in the arena.

Less than two months ago, during the British Olympic selection trials, Hindle discovered she had a tumour and needed an operation. She telephoned the British selectors to ask if they still wanted her to compete for a place on the British team.

They said yes, told her to keep going and after completing the trials, Hindle went for a second opinion and then an operation. She stayed in the hospital for 10 days and during that time, as she was still unable to walk, she found out she had been selected to come to Hong Kong.

Three weeks after the operation, she was back on a horse, but as her body was not in the best condition, Hindle required hours in the gym and hours more in the physiotherapy rooms. 'It's not a very easy way to prepare,' Hindle admitted.

But the support from her friends and her teammates was of great help to Hindle, and the constant cries of 'we believe in you' spurred her on.

'It makes you so proud to be English,' Hindle said.

Some say that it is during the really tough times that one discovers their real friends. In Hindle's experience, she discovered just how nice hers were.

'I'm really proud of my horses, really proud of my friends,' Hindle said.

'Without them I wouldn't be here.'

There were telephone calls - 'come on, come on' and 'well done for being selected' - just as there were daily four-hour commutes from her best friend, Danish dressage rider and team bronze medallist Nathalie Zu Sayn Wittengstein.

Her groom stayed with her in the hospital, the team vet made a visit, and the team trainer committed to getting her fit in time to compete.

It all paid off. Hindle was so happy she cried - really hard - when Zu Sayn Wittengstein won a medal. On Lancet, she made it through the Grand Prix, the Special and then the Freestyle where she competed, perhaps aptly, to music that included the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive.