British riders selected for Paralympic squad

  • Lee Pearson, Deb Criddle, Sophie Christiansen, Sophie Wells and Natasha Baker are to represent Britain at the Paralympics.

    Lee (grade Ib), Deb (grade III) and Sophie Christiansen (grade Ia) have between them won a total of 14 medals at past Paralympics.

    And Sophie Wells (grade IV) and Natasha (grade III) will be making their Paralympic debuts.

    Sophie Christiansen will be riding Janeiro 6, Lee will ride Gentleman, Natasha will partner Cabral, Deb will ride LJT Akilles, and Sophie Wells will ride Pinocchio.

    Anne Dunham has been named as first reserve with Teddy.

    British riders topped the medal table in Beijing, winning five gold medals. And Team GB has won team gold at every Paralympic Games since the sport was introduced at Atlanta in 1996.

    Paralympic equestrian team leader, David Hunter said: “Great Britain will be sending what I believe to be one of the strongest and best prepared squads to the Paralympic Games.

    “It’s been a tough few months for all riders, particularly as the new FEI rules allow for a maximum of five competitors to compete in London – previous Games had allowed seven. The selection process has been robust and results driven. Roll on the Games”.

    Sophie Christiansen, who won an individual bronze in Athens in 2004 and two golds in Beijing in 2008, said: “I’m so excited; it’s just phenomenal to be going. London definitely feels more special, even fewer athletes ever get to experience a home Games and there will be so many of my friends and family there to cheer us on.”

    And nine-time gold medallist Lee added: “It’s a huge relief to get the nod and a great honour, the feeling still hasn’t worn off.

    “I’m really looking forward to it – we have a very strong squad and with the home crowd behind you the support there will be great but there will be that extra added pressure. I don’t think I’ll ever be going to a Games in this country again and I can’t wait to get there”.

    Lee and Sophie are both selected with reserve horses – Lee on Zion and Sophie with Valerius.

    The team, consisting of four riders from those named above, will be announced at a later date.

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