In the best traditions of the Cambodian royal family’s passion for equestrian sports and its enduring legacy for well over a century, two great-granddaughters of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, Amrita Norodom and Jarra Sisowath, are displaying great aptitude and saddle skills to be part of a fast-emerging showjumping team made up of three other teenagers.
Even as King Sihamoni has granted his patronage for the Cambodian Equestrian Federation to hold an endurance competition in the months to come, the fourth generation royal family members will team up with talented jumpers Alicia Khiem and Cambodian American Eleanor “Nora” Lynn, who is currently pursuing her riding and studies in New Mexico.
The fifth member of this young team will be 16-year-old Kim Hee, who began endurance riding in Kampong Chhnang only three years ago but has shown remarkable skills and daring.
“With these talented and dedicated group of five young female riders, we have a dream team to offer. We will do everything possible to ensure that they develop into a strong unit and make our country proud in regional and international events,” said CEF president Mona Tep.
While Khiem hit the headlines in Hong Kong where she stood out among male competitors to take bronze in the Asian Championships in April, Cambodia-born Nora has already represented the Kingdom at the Mondial event in France. She is currently sharpening her skills back in the US, where she has been living since being adopted as a baby by an American family.
“We are indeed excited by the prospects of Amrita and Jarra entering the scene. They not only represent the rich legacy of the royal family when it comes to this sport, but they also follow the illustrious footsteps of their great-grandfather, who was one of the staunchest supporters of equestrianism,” Tep said.
‘Humbled and grateful’
Amrita started riding in France at the age of 6 at a small club in Normandy, where her family had a country house.
“I really love horses. This is the only animal one can have a relationship with. Initially I felt a lot of pressure in competitions but I have got over it. I recently won first and second places in competitions,” 11-year-old Amrita said.
Jarra was 8 when she had her first riding lesson. As she recalled: “It wasn’t as glamorous as I had pictured. We did not gallop or jump, but I had fun.”
And Jarra knew there was more to come and more to discover. That’s when her love for the sport grew.
“I have much to learn and I am aware that I am still lacking, but I hope to continue to improve alongside a team I am sure is nothing short of remarkable. I am humbled and grateful to be given this opportunity to represent my country, especially in a sport I love,” Jarra said.
Following Khiem’s good showing in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the impending arrival of Nora, the promise of Hee and the addition of Amrita and Jarra should dramatically change Cambodia’s show-jumping fortunes.