Thirteen Saudi women will make their debut at the FEI sanctioned Diriyah Equestrian Festival in Saudi Arabia and be in with a chance of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Diriyah Equestrian Festival reaches its second edition this December and will see 120 riders from around the world competing in various challenges. The festival will see thirteen female Saudi entrants – the most even seen at such a competition in their home country. For many of these women, this will be the first time riding in an internationally recognised competition in their home country, having previously had to travel across the region and the world in order to compete.
Saudi Arabian-born rider Lama AlAjmi said “This is a dream because it’s an international four-star competition and its beautiful that I finally get to represent my country on home soil. For me, this is the start of Lama. This is the start for all of us. I want to be on top and the Olympics are my dream.” The eighteen-year-old has loved riding horses since she was a child and this marks the first time competing in her home country.
Sultanah Abar has equestrianism in her family – her brother is also competing in the festival. She said; “I started riding when I was four years old. My father is a horseman and my mother is a horsewoman. Up until now, I’ve only been able to compete abroad. Finally, we can compete at home and it makes me proud to participate in this.”
Winners from the competition will qualify to compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
The festival comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is opening itself up to many international sporting events. Just last week boxing champ Anthony Joshua won the World Heavy Weight Championship title against Andy Ruiz Junior in The Kingdom and some of the world’s top tennis stars will play in the Diriyah Tennis Cup this month.