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Philip Greenlees, the young Brazilian jumping star and winner of the FEI Children’s International Classics in Beijing, tells us about his experience of winning gold and his hopes for his future in the sport...
It was an incredible 2017 for 14-year-old Philip Greenlees after winning the prestigious FEI Children’s International Classics in Beijing in December, taking team gold at the South American Children’s Championships and achieving third-placed in the Children’s Nations Cup in Wellington, US in March.
After a whirlwind year, Philip's big target for 2018 is the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October. He will go there with high hopes and full of confidence after his Beijing win with borrowed horse, Adinka, who he believes was a key part of his success.
“She jumped super every day, four clear rounds out of five!” Philip said after the gold medal success at the Equuleus Arena in China. Greenlees raced through the timers in 38.08 seconds to recalibrate the target.
“I gave it everything in the jump-off. I really went for the win and I knew I was on the podium after my round but there were two more fast riders to come. Winning is a fantastic feeling - really emotional!” he added.
Philip started riding and "fell in love with the sport" when he was just nine years old. “I was 10 when I got my first horse - a beautiful grey horse called Thor. I have been a keen rider and horse lover ever since... the whole family has been drawn in to the sport and really enjoys spending time with the horses,” he added.
Greenlees noted that, in Beijing, with only two days to get to know the horses, he said he felt lucky to have been drawn with Adinka, “a reliable and very fast mare.”
The young rider's parents, Noemy and Roderick Greenlees, said their son has a real talent when it comes to adapting to different horses - which proved to be an advantage for him in Beijing.
They said: “Riders only had 30 minutes and six jumps during the first day of the competition. There was only one opportunity to jump on the second day in an effort to adapt to their horses before the actual competition started on the Saturday. I am sure anyone that enjoys Jumping realises how difficult that can be, especially in an indoor venue full of spectators.”
The wider Greenlees family were unable to be there in Beijing to witness Philip’s winning performance, but they had some very late nights as they watched all his competitions live on YouTube.
Philip’s parents said: “The 11-hour time difference made the family back in Brazil stay up through the night to support and cheer for Adinka and Philip. We were thrilled when he qualified for the finals in Beijing. We will also never forget all the fun and excitement we had during our 10 days in China.”
During his spare time in between training, competing and preparing for events in China, Philip visited a number of sites including the Forbidden City, Tianemen Square, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall.
“There is so much to see and enjoy in China,” Philip said. “We really made the best of our time in Beijing.”
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Text by Hannah Spreckley
Images by Yong Teck Lim