My name is Yuxuan Su, I'm currently a Masters student studying bioethics as well as a former philosophy undergraduate at King's, and I compete and represent Hong Kong in the sport of eventing. When I'm not training or competing, you'd often find me in the gym (chatting and not exercising), spilling coffee on my way to lectures, or in the library panicking about essay deadlines.
For those who don't know, eventing is an equestrian sport, often referred to as the equestrian 'triathlon' as it consists of three phases. The first phase is the dressage, where we go through a sequence of movements and are judged based on how accurately and correctly they are performed.
This is followed by the fun part, the cross-country phase, where we complete a track across the country, jumping solid and natural obstacles whilst being timed. The final phase is the show jumping, in which we jump around a course inside the arena.
I first started horse riding when I was six years old but didn't take it up as a sport until I was thirteen. I've had a real passion for sports throughout my childhood and teenage years, and have always tried different sports growing up; I played a lot of rugby in school, and later also competed in powerlifting. Playing different sports has definitely taught me a lot early on, such as the discipline and dedication required for all of them, and what it means to be an 'athlete'.
In my teenage years, I chose to focus on equestrian as my main sport and was lucky enough to be on the Hong Kong junior team for a couple of years. My love for the sport grew the more I started understanding horses and how each of them had something unique of their own; I enjoyed the challenge of finding that feeling of connection with the horse you’re on and the reward of having that lead to results at an event.
Some of my biggest achievements in the sport have been as a student-athlete at King's. In 2017, I won the individual bronze medal at the Asian Eventing Championships, which was my first senior championships. I was then lucky enough to be a part of Team Hong Kong at the Asian Games 2018, and again at the Asian Equestrian Championships 2019, where we brought home the team silver medal.
On top of this, I compete regularly in international competitions in the UK and in Europe. It's always a privilege to represent Hong Kong internationally and at championships, and not something I ever take lightly. A strong support team is an integral element of any successful athlete, but perhaps even more so for a student-athlete.
None of what I do would be remotely possible without the help and support of everyone at King's Sport, Queenholme Equestrian where I train, the Hong Kong Jockey Club who is my main sponsor, and of course my parents who have been there since day one.
Being a student-athlete comes with its own set of challenges, and at risk of sounding melodramatic, I think I've encountered my fair share of them over the last three years of trying to balance competitive sport with academia.
I spend half the week in London going to classes, and the other half training and competing over weekends; more challenges arise when I miss classes while competing abroad, or when my training takes a hit during the exam period, as there are only so many hours in the day! Throughout it all, King's have been an integral part of my journey as a student-athlete.
I receive regular strength and conditioning coaching from Connor Campbell, and together we have worked on a program that benefits myself specific to riding, such as improving my core stability and muscle control while staying mobile and not stiffening up.
As part of the performance program, I also make full use of the lifestyle and career support we have access to, which have helped me develop myself in areas in both my studies and sport.
My biggest setback last year was breaking my leg at the start of the season, putting me out of competition for nearly six months, meaning I missed international competitions including the Olympic team qualifiers. Needless to say, it was a stressful and frustrating time - both physically and mentally - but the S&C and rehab support I got from King's Sport played a big role in my recovery.
With the help and support of my team around me, I made it back from injury to competing again, graduated from my degree, and medalled at the Asian Championships in December after what had been a long and challenging year.
Thanks to King's, I've learned that it is possible to be both a student and an athlete at the same time, and excel in both. – Yuxuan Su
I begin 2020 refreshed, motivated and ready (other than the extra pounds gained after the holidays) for what's ahead, both in my sport and my degree. I've got several big international competitions planned for this season and will use this year mainly as an opportunity to build towards future championships, such as the next Asian Games, World Equestrian Games, and the Olympics.
I'll also hopefully be graduating from my Master's program at the end of the year. Thanks to King's, I've learned that it is possible to be both a student and an athlete at the same time, and excel in both. Although challenging at times, the support that King's gives us makes it attainable to be successful in both academia and sport - I would encourage any prospective student-athletes to make the most of this opportunity.