Mary sets sights on Olympic gold

OTLEY eventer Mary Edmundson is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Suffolk's Sharon Hunt and gain Olympic glory for the county.

Stuart Watson

OTLEY eventer Mary Edmundson is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Suffolk's Sharon Hunt and gain Olympic glory for the county.

While Hunt, who hails from Great Saxham, was helping Great Britain's eventing team to bronze in Hong Kong this month, 16-year-old Edmundson was becoming on of the youngest riders to have ever represented GB at junior level.

The Easton Harriers Pony Club member was part of a 12-strong GB junior squad that took part in the European Championships at Thirlestane Castle on the Scottish borders.

Competing with Serano, a horse borrowed off her friend Fred Merrett, Edmundson scored highly in the dressage to climb as high as seventh in the table before an unfortunate fall on the 19th fence of the cross-country put paid to any challenge at the top.

Undeterred, the Farlingaye High School pupil went on to the Pony Club Championships in Derbyshire the following week where she triumphed in her arena for the dressage and helped Easton Harriers to an impressive fourth place out of a field of nearly 30.

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The future now bodes well for the teenager who still has a full two years before progression into the category of young rider.

She said: “It was great to see someone from around here (Sharon Hunt) do so well at the Olympics. To compete at that level would be the ultimate for me but at the moment I've just got to concentrate on doing my best as a junior.”

Edmundson, who only started competing three years ago, is following in her mother Debbie's footsteps. Debbie was also a junior international eventer, winning gold at the European Championships, but never quite managed to break into the senior GB squad.

Now though she is hoping that her experience as a top young rider can help her daughter go one stage further in her riding career.

“Mary only started three years ago but she took to it like a duck to water,” said Debbie. “We have a really good time, we're really very lucky as we've always got on very well. It's just as well because you spend a lot of time together with the travelling and the training.”

The road to Great Britain selection has certainly been a tough one this year for Mary who, since March, has travelled all over the country and even gone to France in order to impress selectors.

Such dedication has reaped dividends however as, despite this being one of the strongest junior fields in years - selectors specially expanding the junior squad from six to 12 to accommodate the increased talent - Edmundson beat off competition from over 100 hopefuls.

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