Buddhist monk Kenki Sato won the Asian Games eventing individual gold medal on Saturday, which he said was all part of the “special life path” he is on.
The Japanese rider rode his horse Toy Boy to the title ahead of South Korea's Choen Jai-Sik and defending champion and teammate Yoshiaki Oiwa.
Sato, who said before the event that he would “put some grains of salt on my horse for good luck” has been riding since he was seven.
“I like riding and do what monks normally do and I take both seriously,” said Sato, who completed a year's study at a Buddhist monastery where his father is the clerical head.
“I would like to combine this monk identity with the rider identity. I would like to pursue a special life path.
After leaving the temple school, Sato trained in equestrian in Germany and was the best Japanese performer at the World Equestrian Games in the United States in October.
His love of the sport was handed down to him by his father Shodo who was once selected to represent Japan at Olympic level but whose dreams were shattered by the boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow.