Nineteen-year-old Alexandra Tett has dual citizenship with the African country of Zimbabwe, courtesy of her father’s side of the family, which gives her a unique opportunity – the chance to represent Zimbabwe at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, a chance many people only ever dream of.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics, from the day I started doing this, but I didn’t quite know how to get there,” Tett explained. “I knew it was going to take forever if I was even lucky enough to do it for the United States, and I wanted that shot so badly. I decided to make the change in order to try to pursue that this year. I knew it was a little bit of a long shot, but it’s an opportunity and I’m going to take it.”
Her journey to the East Coast began with a chance job offer from Matt Brown. When Tett missed out on the opportunity to go to the North American Youth Championships due to a broken arm, she admitted to feeling very discouraged. She took a clinic with Brown, and that’s when she got the offer to move to the East Coast and join his operation as a working student.
“I came out [to the East Coast] and I was living by myself in my horse trailer and working for Matt Brown, putting in hours and just sort of getting used to the East Coast. I was a working student for him for about a year before I had to retract and focus on school.” Now, nearly three years later, Tett carries a full-time course load as a second-year student at the University of Delaware and trains with Phillip Dutton.
It was during her time with Brown that she met her current partner, Hawk’s Cay. Tett and Hawk’s Cay (pronounced “Key”) have been partnered together for almost three years now. “For me, it’s a relatively new partnership,” Tett said. “I got him to get experience through the levels. He’s just the bravest cross-country horse that I’ve ever sat on – you point him at something and he says, ‘Yes ma’am.’ He will jump no matter what – he’s absolutely incredible for me as a greener rider. He’s taught me a lot in the dressage. He’s not the easiest – mentally he struggles a little bit but I’ve had to learn as a rider how to be sensitive to it and find the right program that works for him so he’s helped me grow a lot. He’s just the most incredible partner. There’s no horse I’d rather be sitting on at this level.”
“We’ve got a lot of pressure on us this year to qualify," Tett explained. In order to qualify to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as one of the 20 individual athletes, Tett first needs to accumulate enough points based on her results to sit at the top of the FEI Olympic Ranking for Group F, which includes Africa and the Middle East. “I have to get that done, which requires getting points at the four-star level this year. I have until December 1 to get to one of those top two spots and then I have until June of 2020 to make the qualifications.” Those necessary qualifications consist of a CCI4*-S and a CCI4*-L, both with MER results.
“This year is a big focus on points and being competitive – whether that’s short formats or long formats – whatever we need to do, as long as it’s at the level,” Tett continued. “You need to finish in the top 25 percent of the division to get points.”
“My goal is not to go and get a gold medal,” Tett said. “If I get my horse on that plane to Tokyo I will be a happy camper. [I want to go and] be a part of it, get through those finish flags because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity in the first place and that would mean more to me than anything.”
“I’m so proud to represent my dad’s country, I know it means a lot to him and that whole side of my family. It’s a huge part of the family, it means a lot to them and I’m really happy to be able to do it.”
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The Clemson Intercollegiate Eventing Team is comprised of 28 riding and non-riding members. Riding members are Clemson students who regularly compete in team trials and ride in clinics hosted by the team. Our non-riding members are students who are active participants in team sponsored activities and share a love of horses and the sport of eventing.