Rest is next on the list for young Norval rider
EAMONN MAHER Staff Writer After six months of training and competing in the three Olympic equestrian disciplines at the highest level, Norval's Jessica Di Genova and her horse Upolu are enjoying some well-deserved rest. Di Genova brought back a couple of bronze medals from the North American Junior & Youth Riders' Championships in Lexington, Virginia, which is the premier equestrian competition for riders age 14-21. While she was pleased with her showing, the Grade 11 Christ the King student is looking forward to just riding Upolu lightly until she begins her three-month stint in Florida in February, where she trains with Olympian Darren Chiacchia. "I need a break, (Upolu) needs a break, just to catch up with life," said Di Genova. "It's a long six months of non-stop commitment and if it's done one thing, I've learned how to budget my time." Di Genova came close to earning an individual gold medal at the Lexington event as she led the field after the dressage segment with a score of 48.1, then dropped to third after incurring four time faults in cross-country. She had a clear round in the third and final discipline, show jumping, but it wasn't enough to catch the top two riders. Still, her points total boosted the Ontario/Alberta eventing team to third behind two U.S. entries. "Yeah, (the faults) were frustrating, it was a big deal at the time for me, but I got over it," she added. "That's just how competition goes. Sometimes it comes down to the last jump to decide a winner and maybe next time we'll get it." Di Genova did win the first three-day event she entered at the championship level in April at Ocala, Fla., beating out Olympiccalibre riders en route. As for her long-term future, Di Genova is torn between her love of eventing and the desire to pursue a career in medicine. "Unfortunately, I know I have the potential for the Olympics, but I want to go to university as well and the time commitment for both just wouldn't allow me to do it," she said. "I'm not really sure, other than that I will always have horses in my life." (Eamonn Maher can be reached at email@example.com)
Jessica Di Genova, of Norval, leads her horse Upolu over a jump during a recent competition. The Grade 11 Christ the King student recently brought back a couple of bronze medals from the North American Junior & Youth Riders' Championships in Lexington, Virginia, which is the preSubmitted photo mier equestrian competition for riders age 14-21.