The winner of the FEI’s Rising Star Award 2011 is to represent Thailand in eventing at the London 2012 Olympics.
Nina Lamsam Ligon will compete as an individual riding Butts Leon, an experienced horse that was on the German gold-winning medal team at Beijing in 2008 with Andreas Dibowski.
The eventer started out competing for the USA, as she has dual nationality. Nina rode on their junior team at the FEI North American Juniors and Young Riders Championships when she was 15.
However, she defected to the Thai National Team in 2007 when she was invited to ride in the Southeast Asian Games. Even though she was Thailand’s youngest – and first female rider – on the eventing team, Nina won individual and team gold.
Three years later Nina came fourth at the 2010 Asian Games in China, leading the Thai team to a silver medal. And in 2011 she won the Rising Star award, which she said was instrumental in her being selected to ride in this year’s Olympics.
“To know I was selected from a pool of incredibly talented young equestrians gave me the confidence that I can hold my own on the competition field and the reassurance that I could make my goal of the London 2012 Olympics a reality,” she said. “I hope that by winning this award I can inspire other young Thai riders to follow their dreams as well.”
Nina has been in the UK since April preparing for the games and giving her four horses the chance to acclimatise. During her time here she has competed at Houghton Hall, Bramham and Barbury Castle.
The HSBC Rising Star recognises equestrians that show outstanding talent and commitment and is open to athletes between the ages of 14 and 21 from all FEI disciplines.
The FEI also has awards for Best Athlete, Best Groom, Against All Odds and Development. Nominations for all five awards are open until 31 July and can be made on the FEI Awards website.