2015 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping China League Overall 4th place (Chendu, China)
2014 CSI2* Grand Prix 4th place (Changping, China)
2012 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping China League Overall Champion (Chendu, China)
“You have to want it and be hungry enough” Raena Leung, HKJC Equestrian Team Rider
In the world of sports, complacency breeds failure. An athlete must not rest on his laurels but has to keep striving for improvement. Such a progressive attitude is a key ingredient of the recipe for athletic success, as in the case of Raena Leung who had been dedicated herself for the 2017 National Games equestrian jumping.
“For sure you need some talent, but that’s not what makes you a successful rider,” says Leung.
“You have to work hard at it too. You have to want it and be hungry enough. If you don’t take risks sometimes you’ll never achieve that next level.”
Leung says this principle has largely been inculcated in her by her coach Mike-Patrick Leichle in Germany, where she now spends most of her time. “He is a great inspiration and a very straightforward person. He always has the attitude where as long as you work hard you are capable of achieving anything,” she says.
Working hard is exactly what Leung has been doing over the past couple of years. Her record stands as testament to her commitment, and also how far the sport has come in Hong Kong. In 2012, Leung won a title at the FEI World Cup Jumping China League. A year later, she qualified for the 2013 FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, a first for a Hong Kong rider.
In 2014, Leung became the first Hong Kong rider to qualify for the FEI World Equestrian Games. “It’s something I never thought I would be able to do. And it was the same with the World Cup final. I remember watching it and thinking how great it would be,” she says. In 2018, Leung competed in the Asian Games with Orphee Du Granit.
All the hard work has paid off, and Leung has continued to rise through the ranks as she develops her skills and her stature in the sport.
“You need persistence,” she says. “That is definitely key. Life as an athlete comes in waves. You have your ups and your downs. It’s really important to be able to push through the downs and also understand that it’s part of the process.”
A run through of Leung’s schedule reflects the commitment needed to be an elite athlete. Mornings are spent riding between four to six horses; coming close to competition the horses being used come out twice a day. Afternoons are spent working out with a personal trainer, focusing on the core, balance and also includes some cardiovascular work. Two or three times a week, she sees her physiotherapist who helps her recover from any injuries she may have sustained.
Under the Hong Kong Equestrian Performance Plan, initiated and funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Leung received sports psychotherapy on a regular basis. “I’ve found [the psychotherapy] to be extremely helpful,” says Leung. “You can have all the skills but you want to be at the point when you don’t think about what you are doing. Sometimes your head gets in the way, and you over think. This opens up how to deal with the ups and downs, how to not look at mistakes as failure, and to come back stronger. You become much more confident about who you are and what you want to achieve.”Leung started riding at Beas River Country Club at the tender age of six – she’d first asked to when she was just four - and she was instantly hooked.
“What’s special about the sport is that we work with an animal,” she says. “So you need a certain degree of empathy and adaptability. A horse is not a machine. They also have emotions and you have to adapt to different types of temperaments. You have to find ways to work together.”
Leung says the sport she has committed her life to played a huge part in expanding her personal horizons. “It has taught me patience and empathy,” she says. “I think it’s really great that you have to see different things from different perspectives. There isn’t only one way to achieve certain things, and it just broadens your mind and helps you to challenge yourself. You have to see things from a different point of view, and find different ways to make things work.”