I’ve broken some ribs and my two front teeth are false as I’ve had them knocked out. But other than that I’ve been fine.

Nina Clarkin 35, has been the world’s top female polo player for close to 10 years. She lives and breathes the sport. So much so, that she even installed a polo field in her back garden that she shares with her polo player husband John-Paul Clarkin and children Elizabeth, 6, and Patrick, 1. The family split their time between New Zealand and the UK. She talks to us about the sport she loves…

 

What the one personal skill that you have that has helped make you the No1 female player?

I’m tremendously competitive [laughs]. I am also very detailed. That’s why I even like teaching polo. I like to help people perfect their swing.

 

What’s the biggest injury that you’ve had?

I’ve broken some ribs and my two front teeth are false as I’ve had them knocked out. But other than that I’ve been fine.

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Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met?

I remember one polo tournament at St Moritz I met Boris Becker. That was hilarious and I got a photo.

 

What surprises you the most about polo?

We are a real community. While we spend our days fighting each other on the polo field, [off the field] we really come together as a community. I love the support and the camaraderie.

 

What’s the biggest misconception about polo?

That it’s the sport of kings and only for the privileged. It’s good for us when it comes to sponsorship and brand alignment. But day-to-day the sport is much more inclusive than people think. If you get in touch with your local club, you’ll find that you’re welcomed with open arms.

 

What’s the most overused phrase in polo?

‘My line!” or ‘Hey!” when you’re appealing for a foul.

 

Where are your three favourite places to play?

Cirencester –  It’s the oldest club in England. Beautiful fields and a wonderful setting. It’s really good fun, great atmosphere and good quality polo. It ticks all the boxes. New Zealand – We’ve put in a polo field on our farm, so we love playing there and we host quite a few tournaments there. A lot of people dream of owning a house that looks out over the ocean, for us it’s to look out over a polo field. Mexico – We play in a country club called Balvanera Polo & Country Club. They do showjumping there and polo…. They tell me that they drink “soft” tequila, which I found doesn’t exist. They got me with that last time I visited.

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Where do you like to go on holiday?

As we fly so much, I’m very into staycations.  In England we might go to Dorset, Devon, Cornwall or the Lake District. And if we are in New Zealand, we go to the beach.

 

Which holiday destination is still on your list?

I’ve always wanted to go on a horse safari. We’ve been to South Africa and Africa and done some amazing safaris, but we’ve never done one on horseback.

 

Nina Clarkin was playing at the Singapore Polo Club’s Women’s International.

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