Amelia WHITE is only 29 years old but she has already crossed many obstacles : first with horses, since she was an eventing rider, then in life: by winning a Paralympic selection eleven years after a terrible car accident, and two long years spent away from loved ones.
Congratulations on this selection! What is your state of mind since your participation in the Tokyo Paralympic games became official?
There was always this little voice in my head that reminded me of the possibilities of Tokyo being cancelled, or not being selected. Now that it is all official, I am excited and perhaps a little bit nervous, but in a good way. I feel a little bit impatient actually as every day the feeling gets so much better in our training and I therefore cannot wait to ride in Tokyo.
What does this selection also represent in terms of personal commitment, constraints, even sacrifices?
To me, it is the culmination of a very long, very difficult road. To get to this point, you sacrifice a lot. Personally, it can be very lonely. I am Australian and I live in Germany, where I train with . I’m lucky, but I’m 17,000 km from home, my family and my husband. I watched through the eyes of social media as friends and classmates celebrated with their caps and gowns, with their families and with huge smiles. My two bachelor degrees, and my Master in Laws simply came in the post. It is a huge thing as a lawyer. You gain admission to the Supreme Court!
You were the victim of a terrible car accident 11years ago. Today what is you life philosophy?
Life is so short and so fragile. Don’t waste time dreaming… Go ahead and do your best to make it happen!
I never sit back and think “poor me” because ultimately my accident was completely out of my control and wishing it were different will not change anything. In that way, I also look into the future and see where I want to go and what I want to achieve. I have nothing to lose by trying and I want to be absolutely sure that I have made the best of every situation, regardless of what that may be.
There were times when I couldn’t even get on my horse, let alone train. I sometimes forget that, especially when things are hard, and it’s incredibly vital to remember where you came from.
You left leg remains very weak, what is the hardest part for you in the practice of dressage?
The problems with my left leg are for me, very frustrating. It is difficult to ride the lateral movements in general, as your legs are such an integral part of your aids. However, I have found a way that works for us both and I work everyday to make the leg stronger and more stable.
You will live the Paralympic adventure thanks and with Genius your KWPN who is only 10 years old horse!
He is young – one of the youngest going to the games – but I think we have a great partnership, and we have grown together as a team. I trust my horse and he is a true best friend. It is our first major championship, and I hope just the beginning of our journey.
In Tokyo, your core will count for the team classification. Is it an additional stress?
I see it as an exciting challenge. You don’t get a chance to ride for a medal very often, perhaps only once in your life, so you should take it with both hands. The ambitions of the Australian team are, of course, to do the absolute best we can to get ourselves onto the podium.
Amelia, in Tokyo, when will you allow yourself to shout ‘victory’?
When I think back to where I started, and then the mountains I had to climb to get to where I am today, it has been such a journey and every moment I can spend with my horse in the saddle is a bonus. Tokyo is an incredible achievement and opportunity. I am very happy about that on it’s own. Naturally, we all want to medal but it is not the deciding factor of victory for me. We can do our best in front of the world, I’m so happy and incredibly proud of Genius for making it with me.
Interview by Marine Costabadie