Jasmine Chen, who graduated from Penn in 2011, will become the first woman with a Penn affiliation to ever compete in equestrian at the Olympics when she suits up for Chinese Taipei this summer in Tokyo.
She will be competing in the jumping individual division, which she earned her spot in after leading the Olympic Ranking for Southeast Asia and Oceania in 2019.
In addition to becoming the first woman from Penn to ever compete in equestrian at the Olympics, Chen will also become the fourth Penn-affiliated person to ever compete in equestrian at the Games. The last time someone from Penn competed at the Olympics was George A. Best, who competed in the 1988 Games held in Seoul, South Korea.
The other two Quakers to previously participate in equestrian were Francis D. Chapot, who competed in six different Olympics from 1956-76, and Walter G. Stanley Jr., who competed in both 1952 and 1960.
Since equestrian doesn’t hold the status of a varsity sport at Penn, Chen had to get creative in organizing her college life around being able to find a place to practice at.
“At Penn, I would schedule my classes so they would finish by 2:00 PM, then take the train up to Kevin Babington’s barn to ride,” Chen said to Phelps Sports in 2019. “The commute alone took three hours round-trip and I would go ride around four times a week.
“In the summers I would train and compete in Europe like usual. I don’t think college is important at all for riders, however I don’t consider riding as my profession so college is definitely important for me.”
After her time at Penn, Chen moved into the art world, where as of 2020, she works at Sotheby’s in New York. She began working there in 2012, and in 2019, she started to work remotely in order to dedicate herself to equestrian full-time.
Additionally, Jasmine Chen is a dual-sport athlete as she is also a surfer and has participated in the 2017 World Surfing Games in Biarritz, France.
Chen’s ties to the equestrian domain don’t end with her, though, as her twin sister Joy Chen competed at the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010.
She and her sister were supported throughout their careers by their father Pierre Chen, who is currently listed by Forbes as having a net worth of $5.2 billion. As of 2020, his company, the Yangeo Corporation, is reportedly the third largest passive component manufacturer in the world.
As Chen prepares for the rides of her lifetime, she hasn’t seemed to lose sight of the fact that the Olympics are a signal of all she’s accomplished throughout her equestrian career.
“Now I am getting used to the idea, but in December , when I knew I had done it - it was a really magical feeling,” Chen said to World of Showjumping in 2020. “I think setting goals and achieving them are what all athletes work for and what motivate us; the harder you work, the more reward you feel. I tried for Beijing, London and Rio - and I failed three times. That is 12 years of trying, so making it to Tokyo - which is so close to home - means a lot.”
The Olympics are currently underway and will run through August 8, with the equestrian events slated to run from July 23-August 8. Chen’s jumping individual competition will occur from August 2-4.
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