Praveen Nair Mathavan after winning the gold for individual dressage at the Myanmar SEA Games in December. He has become the first Malaysian to qualify for the equestrian competition at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
PETALING JAYA: Equestrian’s Praveen Nair Mathavan is enjoying many firsts lately and it looks like the best is yet to come for the confident youngster.
Praveen, who will turn 17 in April, made his debut at the Myanmar SEA Games in December and rose to the occasion with a surprise gold in the individual dressage competition.
And now, he has become the first Malaysian to qualify for the equestrian competition at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China, from Aug 16-28.
Naturally, he wants to return home with a medal around his neck.
“It feels great to know that I’ll be competing at the YOG. That, and winning the gold in my first appearance at the SEA Games are definitely the highlights of my career so far,” said Praveen, who has been competing since age 12.
“(Winning) the gold in Myanmar came as a surprise, but I was able to gauge where I stand in the region – that was a great confidence booster. Now, I’d love to come back with a medal, of any colour, from Nanjing,” he added.
However, Praveen will have to compete at the Nanjing International Equestrian Field without both his trusty horses - Irish mare Clearcut (with whom he qualified for the YOG) and Drumminore.
All riders of both the individual and continental team show jumping events will compete using a “borrowed horse” system and the riders will have to draw for their horses.
“It’s definitely a challenge as you only have about an hour or so to get to know the horse before the competition ... so you definitely need a bit of luck too in what kind of horse you draw,” said Praveen, who also competed with a borrowed horse at the SEA Games.
“An hour is not long. It all boils down to how fast you can adapt to the horse, learn its character and form an understanding or partnership to get it to go where you want to (during competition),” he added.
However, the Nexus International student is not resting on his laurels as he undergoes training as usual – three to four hours a day, six times a week - with the only change being that he goes to different stables and rides as many horses as he can to improve his adapting skills.
Besides that, Praveen will also be participating in a few regional competitions with “borrowed horses” as well as go for a training stint in Germany in March.