Medals galore for British Paralympic dressage squad in Hong Kong

  • Team GB finished the final day of equestrian competition at the Paralympic Games with a flourish, picking up two golds and three silvers in the final three freestyle events.

    Sophie Christiansen started the ball rolling winning the grade 1a with Lambrusco to add to her team gold and individual silver earned earlier in the week. Team mate Anne Dunham picked up silver with Teddy.

    Sophie was thrilled with her win. “This is a dream come true,” she said.

    There was perhaps no real surprise when ‘Mr Paralympics’ himself Lee Pearson kept up his 100% Paralympic record, winning the grade 1b freestyle and adding gold number 9 to his haul.

    It had been a nerve wracking few hours in the run-up to the freestyle after Gentlemen pulled off a shoe and had to be rested for 24 hours. But the horse was in fine form for the test and produced the highest of the week, 77.444%.

    Ricky Balshaw pulled off the performance of his life to finish second to Lee with Deacons Giorgi. Ricky had to endure a tense wait until the final score went up for eventual bronze Marcos Alves of Brazil.

    This was a fraction of what Simon Laurens, who won silver in the grade III, had to go through however. With each class split into two sections, Simon was in action at 8am and it wasn’t until over 12 hours later at the end of the evening session that his silver was confirmed. Debbie Criddle, the 2004 Paralympic champion was also in action in this grade with Pavaroti, but sadly just missed out of the medals by a fraction of a percent in fourth.

    Hannelore Brenner of Germany added to her individual gold, winning the grade III freestye with her elegant chestnut mare Women of the World.

    With a capacity crowd watching, 30,000 spectators have been through the gates during the week. The Equestrian part of the games were brought to a close with the team medal ceremony where team GB were presented with their well deserved golds to cheers that would have done credit to a football stadium.

    Don’t miss H&H’s full report from the Paralympic Games in next week’s magazine

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