by sportswriters Wang Zijiang, Zhang Han
TOKYO, July 25 (Xinhua) -- China's eventing rider Alex Hua Tian was still emotional talking overnight about the Tokyo 2020 Games opening ceremony where he marched alongside his broader teammates of the Chinese delegation.
"Something like the Olympic Games, especially the opening ceremony at Olympic Games, is extremely special. It doesn't matter how many games you do," he told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
"You're part of something that's much bigger than you," added the three-time Olympian, who attended at the Olympic opening ceremonies twice.
As the country's first Olympic athlete in this sport at then the age of 18, Hua had to skip the Beijing 2008 Games' grand opening since the equestrian event was held in Hong Kong.
"I can still feel the electricity from the atmosphere and hear the deafening roar from the crowd. I may well remember tonight for different but even more heartwarming reasons," said the 31-year-old.
He has been kept busy since arriving in Tokyo by the tight schedule preparing for his Olympic equestrian campaign, which gets underway in five days but it felt totally worth it to spare almost eight hours in the Olympic opening ceremony.
"Competing for your country, proud of yourself, proud of your teammates," Hua recalled his feeling while experiencing the opening ceremony again after five years away from Rio 2016.
He shared a touching story from that night, which he called "the magic of an Olympic Opening ceremony with a live audience."
"This amazing volunteer, Chinese flag painted on the cheek and on her big hand thing," he said. "As soon as she saw us, she'd obviously been waiting there all day to welcome us into the opening ceremony, she burst into tears.
"I came away thinking about the Olympic movement, what it means and despite how difficult a year the world has had, how important it remains to so many people," Hua added.
The most famous equestrian of China, who competed at Rio 2016 and resulted in the eighth at the individual event, now heads with the Chinese team towards Tokyo. It's the first time that China booked an Olympic eventing team ticket.
"This Olympic cycle is very different for me because I'm competing in the team for the first time at this level. It means that the dynamic is so different," commented Hua.
The London-based equestrian said he's very proud of his teammates, Liang Ruiji, Bao Yingfeng and Sun Huadong as it's a 'real achievement' to get an Olympic entry.
"It's important to be realistic that we are very very inexperienced in comparison to the traditional equestrian nations. And I just hope that we can deliver a good result for the future. I think that's the target for these Olympic Games," Hua said. Enditem