Olympic Dreams: Championship Equestrian Ayden Uhlir Fights to Save Her Sport

What if you worked your whole life towards a dream, only to find that it may never happen?

Back in our “DREAM BIG” issue, BYOU Magazine ran a story on international equestrian champion Ayden Uhlir, who has worked hard since age five to achieve her dream of competing in the Olympics. Her journey has taken her on worldwide competitions and includes many international awards as an equestrian. Now her sport may be in jeopardy for future Olympic events, so Ayden is taking it upon her herself to bring some much-needed attention to equestrian sports through her new video campaign — read her story and watch her videos below! We love Ayden’s warrior spirit to stand up (and take action!) for something she feels strongly about … you go girl!

SAVING MY SPORT by Ayden Uhlir

Growing up, my goal has always been to represent the USA in international equestrian competition. I have had the “Olympic Dream” driving me, and my choices, for as long as I can remember! However, several years ago that goal was put in danger. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) downgraded equestrian sports so that they can now be eliminated from the Olympics. When I heard this I thought, “I have to do something!”

Ayden Uhlir celebrating her win at the Future Champions Nation Cup in Germany!

Following an interview I did with my international federation (FEI) for their new website, and I suggested to them that we develop a series of video interviews to address some of the issues that IOC has about equestrian sports. I submitted some written ideas and they were very interested in seeing where it led.  I am lucky to have the greatest agent in the world (Sheryl Shade of Shade Global) who believes in connecting her athletes to help them build a support network. I suggested to FEI that I interview these athletes and use those interviews to discuss the IOC issues; for instance, we might compare our gym training regimes or how our sports are judged.

The first of these videos was with my friend and gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez. She and I had a great time at the gym comparing our sports. It was neat to see how different body types doing different sports overlap in a lot of their exercise needs! Then last fall I flew out to Park City, Utah to meet with Mac Bohonnon, an aerials skier and 2-time Olympian, and Nick Goepper, a slopestyle skier, Olympic bronze medalist, and 3-time X Games gold medalist.  Both Nick and Mac were open to trying new things and we had a great time swapping sports—those boys were able to see just how physically demanding equestrian sports really are! (See videos below)

Nick Goepper and Mac Bohonnon are competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea this weekend, February 17 & 18.  Mac’s qualification runs are Saturday morning, February 17, at 5:00 am EST and 5:45 am EST (as it is will be Saturday night in South Korea) and the finals will be Sunday at the same time. Nick’s qualification is Saturday night at 7:00 pm EST (it will be 10am Sunday morning in South Korea) for the first qualification round, and it runs straight through the second qualification and three championship rounds. I’ll be watching and can’t wait to support them in their dreams!

Check out my videos with Mac, Nick, and Laurie below as we swap and talk sports! Hopefully these videos will bring more attention to how equestrian sports require serious hard work and dedication like other Olympic sports and should not be eliminated from future Olympic events. And look for more videos to come soon as a lead-up to the World Equestrian Games this fall!

Read Ayden Uhlir’s story HERE on our blog that was featured in our DREAM BIG issue. You can read more inspiration from the DREAM BIG issue right on the BYOU Magazine app! Simply download the BYOU Magazine app (available in all app stores) and you’ll have access to our DREAM BIG issue plus 17 of our most popular issues (including our newest GOODNESS issue!), all for only $2.99/month or $19.99/year (best value!)

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