BELIEVE it or not, but long-time national team member equestrienne Toni Leviste, 44, is aiming for a sixth stint in the coming Asian Games in Indonesia slated later this year.
Leviste, who flew back to Manila from Florida to receive her citation from the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association recently, bared her intention to this writer, who visited her at her horse ranch in Lipa City in Batangas.
“I will definitely join the 2018 Asian Games, even if I have to join as an individual but still representing the country. I would go also for the 2020 Olympic Games if I qualify,” said Leviste, whose previous stints in the Asiad came in 1994 in Japan, 1998 in Thailand, 2002 in Korea, 2006 in Qatar and again in Korea in 2014.
Also an Olympian, who had a stint in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Leviste has also qualified in the Olympics of the equestrian world, the 2018 World Equestrian Games set in September this year in North Carolina at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
“I qualified for this last year in a tournament in Sweden,” said Leviste, whose award from the PSA came from her winning a Grand Prix event in Slovakia in August last year.
Aboard her 17-year-old chestnut stallion, Maximillian, Leviste bested 60 of the world’s best riders and for the first time in the history of Philippine Equestrian Sport, the Philippine National Anthem was played on European soil.
“I was not expecting to win there because I looked at it as part of the preparation for the SEA Games in Malaysia, and I shed tears when I heard the Philippine national anthem and our flag was hoisted. I competed against some of the world’s best riders,” said Leviste, who is presently based in Wellington, Florida, acknowledged as the center of international equestrian during the months of January to April, which are the winter months in Europe.
On the disqualification of Colin Syquia after his horse was found to have a banned substance after a doping test in last year’s SEA Games, Leviste expressed her disappointment that even as the case has not been decided with finality, the news has already come out and the gold medal won by the Philippines was taken back.
“I do not want to go into details but our whole team is behind Colin here and he has already submitted his side and it will still be heard by the proper body,” she said.
Here’s to more of Leviste proudly representing the Philippines in the world of equestrian.
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