Mother of all comebacks as Chang does Hong Kong proud
Two-and-a-half months after giving birth to her first child, showjumping ace Jennifer Chang Ren-hui has also delivered for Hong Kong.
Chang 'hopped back in the saddle' and blazed to victory on Luxor in the main event of the Premier Cup Series in Kuala Lumpur last Sunday.
'It was a spectacularly fun comeback,' smiled Chang, who with husband Edward Carmichael was blessed with a son, David James, on April 6. 'Somehow everything fell into place more smoothly than I had hoped for.'
Little David had prevented Chang from becoming the first Hong Kong showjumper to take part in the prestigious Rolex FEI World Cup jumping finals in Las Vegas in March, but once he was born there was no holding the proud mum back.
'I rode until I was about four months pregnant and then stopped. I felt ready to get back about four weeks after having the baby, but the timing was bad as our horse went lame around the same time,' Chang said.
Chang, who represented Hong Kong at the last Asian Games in Doha in 2006, had plans to go to Malaysia two weeks prior to the competition for a practice show. But, due to post-natal complications, her doctors ordered her not to fly. She had a difficult time in giving birth by Cesarean surgery.
'I went to Kuala Lumpur only last week, having only ridden casually a few times at Beas River. I tried to keep my expectations realistic as I was not sure I would be fit enough to compete throughout a three-day show. But it was like riding a bicycle.'
Chang and Luxor were the pick of a field of 123 riders and 109 horses from 15 clubs from Hong Kong, Thailand, Sweden, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia.
'This was a relatively small competition for a grand prix (1.30 to 1.40 metres in the final round, whereas our World Cup qualifiers start at 1.45m plus), but it was the main preparation event leading up to this year's qualifying series for the World Cup,' Chang said.
Stuart Mitchell, who coaches Chang, called her performance 'amazing'. 'She had no practice and just got on the horse and competed,' Mitchell said. 'Luxor was basically 100 per cent prepared, but the rider would have been at about five to 10 per cent prepared.
'It takes a certain amount of fitness to ride these types of horses around a course and do it correctly. It also takes mental sharpness for you need your reactions to be quick and correct,' Mitchell added.
Chang has now set her eyes on earning another invitation to the World Cup finals, and also representing Hong Kong at the Asian Games in Guangzhou next year.
'I have two horses, Luxor and Luc Skywalker, who are both eligible to take part in the Asian Games,' Chang said.
'Stuart was very happy with my performance in Malaysia. Maybe I should get pregnant more often.'