9 things you have to know about double world gold medallist Sophie Wells

  • From making history to an surprising allergy, find out more about the rider who scooped two brilliant gold medals for Britain at the World Equestrian Games

    1. Grade V rider Sophie is currently ranked as world number one across all five para grades. The grade V section is for riders whose disability has the least effect on their ability to ride; grade I is for the riders whose disability affects them the most.

    2. Born with amniotic band syndrome, in which the amniotic sac tightens around parts of the body like an elastic band, Sophie is missing several fingers and has no feeling in her feet and ankles, which almost had to be amputated when she was a baby.

    3. It was discovering looped reins that changed the game for Sophie when it came to riding — she has two loops of different lengths, which helps her grip the reins.

    4. Sophie is also a successful professional rider in able-bodied dressage, having competed her Paralympic gold medallist Valerius up to grand prix, and becoming double winter national champion at small tour in 2017.

    5. Sophie is the only rider to have represented Britain on both able-bodied and para teams — she was a member of the junior and young rider European Championships teams in 2010 and 2011.

    6. At the age of just 28, Sophie has now collected 29 championships medals, more than she is years old. Of these, 20 are gold.

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    7. It was an allergy to horses, rather than her disability, that proved the biggest threat to her riding career as a child. Luckily, as she grew older, her allergy became less severe.

    8. As well as an international rider, Sophie is also highly regarded as a trainer of both para and able-bodied riders. Among her pupils are Izzy Palmer and Georgia Wilson, both of whom were listed as reserves for this year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG).

    9. In 2017, Sophie became the first para rider to win the prestigious Equestrian of the Year Trophy at the Horse of the Year Show, following in the footsteps of previous winners Charlotte Dujardin, Pippa Funnell, Zara Phillips and Nick Skelton.

    Don’t miss this week’s H&H for the full reports from the WEG showjumping and para dressage, out Thursday, 27 September

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