Here’s an update on a Sunday Living story we published nearly two years ago:
In August 2014, we featured Olivia Oney, then a 15-year-old sophomore at Columbus High School, who overcame the odds to become an elite junior equestrian.
Well, Olivia has done it again, this time at an even higher level.
In her first year competing in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, Olivia, now 17, finished second in the country in her division, called varsity intermediate on the flat, at the 2016 IEA National Finals, April 20-24 in Lexington, Ky.
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“It’s crazy to think about,” she told The Telegraph, our sister newspaper in Macon.
Because there isn’t a local IEA program, she competes with the Byron-based Middle Georgia Equestrian Team. Olivia has impressed the team’s coach, Jennifer Mastronardi, with more than her riding skills.
As reported by Telegraph staff writer Angela Woolen, Olivia was one of only two riders left in the competition when she reached over and grabbed the hand of the other girl, a stranger, and told her, “Good luck.”
“I am just so incredibly proud of her for showing such amazing sportsmanship,” Mastronardi said.
And so are we.
Olivia and her mother, Betsy, drive the 1½ hours from Columbus to Byron at least once a week to practice with the team during the season. She has trained with Nancy Abney at Hunters Run in Midland.
Now, as Olivia prepares for her senior year, she has another goal to overcome the odds.
“I cannot wait to come back stronger,” she told the Telegraph. “I am going to work as hard as I can, get another spot at nationals, and win it.”