Riyadh: Training for the Olympics is a lifestyle, even if the Games happen to be six years away.
That is the mantra of Saudi female equestrian star Sara Jedea, who dreams of representing the Kingdom at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
It will be the culmination of an ambition Jedea has had since she started taking part in jumping competitions in 2009, at only 15 years old.
But having first started riding at the age of 6, she told Arab News that it is the journey and not the destination that counts — and this is what inspires her every day to represent Saudi Arabia at various competitions.
Jedea, who was born in Switzerland and moved to Manhattan, New York when she was 4 years old, said: “As a young Saudi in a big city, I loved going upstate as a child, where I rode and interacted with horses. That’s when I realized how special the bond can be with animals as smart and intuitive as horses.
“Growing up, all my friends in America were into performance art, theater and music. I loved being with my horses and in nature. I found the same passion and expression in the competitive arenas as my friends did performing in theaters and concerts."
While she was in school, she realized her heart was in the equestrian world and wanted to embrace the sport fully by dropping out of university and building a career in competitive riding.
Jedea has now been competing in horse shows at the national level since she was 18, enjoying a successful junior career. She was also hand-picked by the Saudi Equestrian Federation to represent Kingdom’s national team at a competition in the UAE in January 2020.
“Competing for me today is more meaningful than ever before. It’s a chance to present the tangible outcomes that Saudi’s Vision 2030 targets and continues to produce,” Jedea said. “Being a part of the Kingdom’s growth, I now ride with two main goals: to win and rank high for Saudi, showcasing what we have always been capable of, and to inspire other young Saudi equestrians to follow their dreams and become competitive riders.”
With her eyes already on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, she has entered many international competitions and produced some significant results in recent years: Champion of the Week at the 2018 Hits Ocala Winter Circuit in Florida; 12th place out of 30 at the Sharjah Ladies International Show in 2020; and third place out of 30 at San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy earlier this year, to name a few.
Jedea’s multicultural upbringing has prepared her well for a career that demands plenty of travel and interaction with different cultures.
Her father was a diplomat, so her childhood was spent traveling and riding around the world, including at horse riding summer camps in Sweden and Morocco.
She moved back to Riyadh during the pandemic and immersed herself in the equestrian scene there after volunteering at a private barn — supporting young Saudi female riders — and trained with Khaled Al-Eid, a Saudi Arabian equestrian who won a bronze medal in individual show jumping at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Jedea is currently based in Italy and training under Giulia Martinengo Marquet with her two horses: Lars, a Swedish Warmblood, and Fresco, a Hanoverian.
The road to Los Angeles 2028 is a long one, but there will be plenty of opportunities for Jedea to showcase her talents along the way as she targets her ultimate dream.