Lai confident of making Olympic bid
Show-jumping rider Jacqueline Lai Jing-man, who was seriously injured in a fall from a horse in February, is confident of recovering in time for the London Olympic qualifiers in July.
However, the promising 20-year-old will not be part of the five-strong Hong Kong team who start in today's Nations Cup of Denmark in Copenhagen. The event serves as an important warm-up ahead of the FEI Championship in Aachen, Germany, in July - the designated 2012 Olympic Games qualifiers for groups C and G, which comprise countries from Central and Eastern Europe, Central and Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Lai suffered a fractured pelvis in the accident during a training session in Denmark, and is now making a steady recovery after surgery, attending regular physiotherapy sessions.
'I had my heart set on this competition since we got the invitation in January,' said Lai, who is also a member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Team based in Europe preparing for the Olympic qualifiers. 'Though it is disappointing to have to back out, accidents happen and injury is part of sport.
'All I can say is that I am happy as there are still two months to the qualifiers and I look forward to taking part in them. There will be lots of work for me to get back in shape and find my rhythm, but I have a good fitness regime going at the moment, and my mount Capone is being kept fit through my out-of-sport period.
'If all goes as planned with both me and Capone getting back into top competition shape, I will be there.'
Hong Kong would be represented by Patrick Lam, Samantha Lam, Kenneth Cheung Man-kit, Raena Leung and Jennifer Lee in Copenhagen, Hong Kong Equestrian Federation general manager Angela Kong Ka-fung said. The two Lams and Cheung are also members of the HKJC Team, who, along with Lai, won Hong Kong's first ever equestrian medal at the Asian Games when they came third in team jumping.
'The competition for the Olympic qualifiers will be very tough as there is only one team berth left for more than 40 countries in group C and G to fight for at the championship in Aachen this summer,' Kong said. 'We will use the Copenhagen show to test the progress of our riders against some of the world's best. We are happy to have been invited by the organisers as we do not get too many chances of this kind.'
Hong Kong had a team at the 2008 Olympics because it was the host city for equestrian events and had a less competitive qualifying contest.