Beaulieu rider to compete in China

FOURWAYS - Alexa Stais is a 17 year old with an impressive equestrian CV.

The Beaulieu College pupil will be representing the South African team at the Youth Olympic Games in August which will be held in Nanjing, China, and at the 2014 final of the Federation Equestre Internetionale (FEI) world showjumping challenge.

“I’ve always had horses at my home – so I’ve never really known any other way. I started riding at three years old after seeing my older sister ride. I guess I’ve never looked back,” said Stais.

She was groomed young and has had a professional career since she turned 10. All that has seen her being placed as the youngest, highest-placed rider in the 2013 national showjumping rankings for three categories: juniors, young riders and adults.

However, Stais said that being selected to represent her country at this year’s Youth Olympic Games is her “greatest achievement”. At the moment, Stais is the highest ranked young rider in the 1.3m and 1.4m classes – but she dreams even bigger.

“On an international level, I would love to compete at the Senior Olympics in possibly 2020 or 2024. On a local level, I aim to be jumping the 1.5m classes in a year or two and hopefully competing in all of the World Cup Qualifiers,” she said.

Her genuine love for horses would rarely see Stais stray too far away from them.

“Vaulting… is most certainly my other passion and ‘profession’. I also love my school hockey, which gives me a break from the horses, as it allows me to partake in a team sport.”

For such an accomplished sports starlette, there is very little Stais regrets.

“I honestly cannot think of anything that I wish to change. I do regret not having enough hours in the day – so much to do, so little time!”

Stais looks up to equestrian greats such as British showjumper Ben Maher, Marcus Ehning and Lorette Knowles-Taylor. “[Maher] oozes style when riding and

has incredible BMT [big match temperament]. Ehning is also a favourite of mine for similar reasons. On a local level, my trainer Knowles-Taylor is incredibly level-headed, determined and perseveres by getting back up and trying again and again, no matter what.”

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