The future looks bright for Amy Hay
Ellina Mhlanga-Senior Sports Reporter
FOR promising showjumper Amy Hay, what started as way to deal with an unfortunate situation when her brother was diagnosed with cancer became her passion, and she will not give it up for anything.
The 17-year-old has made strides in her chosen sport over the years to become one of the most promising athletes in Zimbabwe.
She has won a number of events and qualified Zimbabwe a spot at the Youth Equestrian Games (YEG) to be held between June and July in Aachen, Germany.
The qualification was achieved last year but only five African nations are selected and Zimbabwe were confirmed as one of the countries from the continent that will compete in Germany this year. The other African countries that will be part of the event are South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Hay was selected to represent the country at the Games.
“Qualifying Zimbabwe for the 2022 Youth Equestrian Games was a very special moment for me, especially after all the work I put in to achieve it.
“I moved to South Africa 10 months before, so that I could train all day, almost every day. I needed to do this in order to be able to compete against tough competition and push myself to achieve this goal.
“I rode as many horses as possible so that I could get used to their different characters, knowing that we would be on borrowed horses at the Youth Equestrian Games,” Hay said.
She is scheduled to leave for Morocco on Monday for a training camp towards her participation at the YEG.
Hay shared how she fell in love with the sport.
“I am 17 years old and I love sport! I started junior school at Chisipite. However, in 2011 when I was only five years old, things changed. My older brother got cancer and so as a family, we had to move to Johannesburg, South Africa.
“I went to school at St. Peter’s for almost two years and during that time, my mum wanted me to do something fun that would distract me from my brother and so she took me to a little riding school called Chartwell Stables and that’s where my love for horses began.
“I have now been competing for nine years, and I am currently at Hellenic Academy in Zimbabwe. However, I ride in South Africa,” said Hay.
Last year she won a gold medal in the South African Youth Grand Prix Championships in Cape Town.
She became the first Zimbabwean showjumper to win a gold medal in the South African Youth Grand Prix Championships.
The teenager rider was the first Zimbabwean to be invited to compete in the Children’s German Friendships in 2019 in Herford, Germany.
“The German Friendships was an incredible experience for me. Competitors came from all over the world, and I made friends with many people whom I still keep in touch with.
“I am grateful to have been the first Zimbabwean to be invited. I got coached by and met some of the top riders in the world which still amazes me.
“I also got to experience the equestrian world in Europe for the first time and it was definitely an eye-opener. Being involved in the German Friendships has helped open a few doors for me, and has given me a far better insight into the sport in general,” said Hay. She is coached by Charley Crockart in South Africa and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, she was fortunate to be able to attend some major competitions last year. Crockart is a Zimbabwean.
Some of her best moments include her victory at the South African Youth Grand Prix Championships and qualifying Zimbabwe for the 2022 YEG.
And her desire is to compete around the world.
“This is the most humbling sport I have come across. The highs definitely don’t come without the lows. Your horses become your closest companions, and you form such a special bond with all of them. That relationship is so important.
“However, because showjumping is my passion, it helps me to get through the lows and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
“My vision for the future would be to live in Europe and to compete around the world against the best in the world. I would also like to be a role model for the younger generation,” Hay said. Her day usually starts training at 6am with a morning run.
“Over the past year or so, whilst I have been riding in South Africa, most mornings I wake up at 6am and go for a run. It is important to maintain your physical and mental fitness.
“I then ride from 8am-11am, have lunch and rest until 2pm and then go ride again from 2:30pm-5:30pm.
“Depending on the situation, I ride between four and eight horses a day. I also like to get involved with basic horse and stable management such as making sure my horses get iced or putting ice tight on and bandaging them when needed and making sure they have all their necessary requirements.
“Any spare time I have I like to play hockey. I also like baking, and spending time with my friends and family but horse riding takes up a lot of my time, leaving very little for other things,” said Hay.
She underscored the role her parents and those around her, including her coach Crockart, have played in her journey as they provide her with a strong support system.