Sharon's Olympic quest

SHARON Hunt is not just going to the Beijing Olympics for the experience - she is targeting a medal.

SHARON Hunt is not just going to the Beijing Olympics for the experience - she is targeting a medal.

The 30-year-old from Great Saxham, near Bury St Edmunds, was selected as one of a five-strong Great Britain Three-Day Eventing team, following an excellent fifth spot at this year's Badminton Horse Trials.

Although Beijing are hosting the Games, the equestrian events will be staged in Hong Kong, where the conditions will be just as demanding.

Her horse, Tankers Town, has partnered her to considerable success on the international stage, and the duo will be teaming up again in Asia, attempting to overcome both the stiff competition and the high humidity.

“I'm feeling as fit as I've ever been, because I've been preparing for the heat and humidity,” explained Sharon.

“I've been wearing lots of jumpers and jackets, and sitting in the sun, and I'm off to a heat chamber with the rest of the team to exercise in conditions comparable to Hong Kong. There won't be much air out there. It must be working, because I actually felt cold on a warm summer's day last week.

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“It's always been a dream of mine to compete at the Olympics, because that is the ultimate goal.

“The dream became more of a reality after the World Equestrian Games of 2006 (in Aachen, Germany), when I finished second Briton behind Zara Phillips (winner), and ninth overall.

“Unfortunately, Tankers Town got injured last year. He suffered from bruised feet, caused by the firm ground, so he had three months off.

“We missed the summer competitions, but hopefully that rest will have done us both good.

“I'm definitely aiming for a medal out in Hong Kong. There are five of us in the team, with three to count. The Australians are probably the favourites, and the Germans, Kiwis and French will also be strong.

“But I'm feeling confident. Jasper's (her nickname for Tankers Town) dressage has been getting better, and he's always been strong at cross country.

“The show jumping is usually his best discipline, and there will be both a team and individual competition to go for at that stage.

“We had a double clear round at Badminton this year, and although we actually had a fence down last weekend, I'd rather that happened now than out at the Olympics,” added Sharon.

Sharon and her parents have been based at Great Saxham for the last 15 years, and have gradually built up an impressive yard that now boasts 16 stables.

She gallops with Tankers Town at nearby Newmarket, where the horse also swims regularly.

“It's going to be a great experience, and eight or nine members of my family will be coming out to watch and support me.

“But I don't look on this as the culmination of my career. I see it as the start, hopefully the first of several Olympics.”

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