Showjumping needs sponsorship - Wates
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
National equestrian coach Susan Wates said there is urgent need for sponsorship and better-bred horses if Jamaica is to fulfil its potential of becoming a dominant force in showjumping in the North and Central America region.
Wates, who has been involved in showjumping for more than 35 years, recently guided Jamaica to their first gold medal at an international showjumping competition when 12-year-old Danielle Gore won in Colombia last Sunday. Hannah Deleon, who also represented Jamaica at the same tournament, finished fourth in the Under-14 section.
Wates told The Gleaner in an interview yesterday that there are many talented riders in the country, but the lack of sponsorship and properly bred horses have hampered the growth of the sport.
"We have some very talented kids and they are very dedicated, and they work very hard, but it is not a cheap sport, and so we need sponsors to come on board and help us," said Wates.
"We also need better horses in this country, not that we don't have well-bred horses, but the training of horses takes a lot longer than regular race track horses," Wates said. "A top showjumping horse doesn't come into its own until about 11 years old," she pointed out. " This is why Colombia was such a great experience for us because they have some fantastic horses over there.
Wates is hoping that Gore and Deleon's achievements will inspire more youngsters to take part in the sport, as well as attract more sponsors.
"It certainly gets the attention of a lot of people who I call the naysayers and who say that we can never go abroad and we can never win," Wates said. "They now suddenly realise that we can go abroad and we can win.
"I hope people would realise that we have international-standard riders here in Jamaica, and it shows that these kids can hold their own against the rest of the world."
Wates said that she was very pleased with the way Gore and Deleon carried themselves throughout the tournament in Colombia because they were role models for other youngsters watching over there.
"These girls were very polite. They were great ambassadors for Jamaica, and they were humble and they were very popular in the end because everybody was rooting for them," she said.
"I am chilled with these girls' performance because I couldn't be any happier. I taught these kids to ride from they could get on horseback," Wates said. "I have known them nearly all their lives, and so they have been doing a lot of work because they ride four times a week and they have their own horses.