By Diana Dobson 

Cambridge showjumper Nicola Hammond will start her studies at the University of Waikato with an extra spring in her step.

The 19-year-old, a member of ESNZ’s jumping Mitavite Talent ID squad, has been awarded a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship which will cover her tertiary fees and some of her equestrian expenses while at the university.

“It is a big honour to win one of these scholarships and certainly takes the pressure off,” says Hammond.

Thirty Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships are awarded each year. The focus is on excellence in sport, academia and leadership. Last year equestrians Anya Noble and Sarah Young graced the list.

“I am very excited to be starting university.”

Hammond will study a Bachelor of Social Science and psychology. She plans to still live at home so she can continue to be competitive with her horse.

She says she is inspired by Hillary’s tenaciousness, resilience and determination.

It is not the first award she has won – Hammond was awarded a certificate of achievement in the sports category of the Waipa District Youth Awards. She was also also a volunteer at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 and participated in an equine programme for at-risk youngsters while living in Singapore.

Hammond is competing this season aboard Carlo, and has recently retired Links Hot Gossip. Carlo has been battling mud fever from early in the season, so it has been a little challenging for the rider.

“The plan was to step him up to more Grand Prix and Young Rider classes but it is really only just starting now,” she said.

However, she’s hopeful all is on track for her to qualify for both the Young Rider and Lady Rider of the Year classes at HOY. Hammond is a member of the Pryde’s EasiFeed Riding Team.

She and her family moved from Singapore to New Zealand in 2014.

“Our parents wanted us to have more of an all-round life,” she says. “It is so much nicer here.”

The family live at Karapiro, near Cambridge.

“When we moved here we got five acres and thought it was huge . . . but now it is too small!”