Britain’s Ia rider with the golden touch Sophie Christiansen (pictured) remained unbeaten at London 2012, where she has won three gold medals – the first British Paralympic athlete to do so here.
She and the 15-year-old gelding Janeiro 6 cruised to victory in the freestyle with a patriotic medley which earned them a socking great personal best of 84.75% – almost 5% ahead of second placed Singapore rider Laurentia Tan. Ireland’s Helen Kearney took her third medal of the games, a bronze, aboard Mister Cool.
Sophie said: “I was always going to enjoy that! I actually played it a bit safe to keep him relaxed and keep the rhythm and it paid off with such a high score.”
‘I came for gold’
Sophie Wells and Pinnochio added another silver to their Paralympic medal haul this morning, scoring 81.15% at grade IV to Belgian rider Michele George’s 82.1% at London’s Greenwich Park.
“I’m slightly disappointed as I came for gold,” said Sophie, who rode to a compilation of music from the film Pinnochio. “But I’m very proud to have two silvers and a gold and have strongly contributed to the team score.”
Sophie took risks in her programme, including four- and three-time tempi changes, not all of which came off smoothly.
Of her experience at the Games, she added: “Life will never be the same again – I’ll probably never be able to top this.”
The podium line-up was identical to that of the individual championship test with Dutch rider Frank Hosmar taking bronze.
You don’t ‘go wrong’ in the freestyle
In the afternoon’s grade III freestyle session Deb Criddle was up against Germany’s Hannelore Brenner. The result echoed the individual championship with the German taking gold on Women Of The World, Deb the silver and Denmark’s Annika Dalskov in bronze.
“My freestyle was truly freestyle today,” admitted Deb. “I just had a slight momentary hesitation and went off into a movement that I shouldn’t have.
“The test had everything in it that I had planned, but not necessarily in the places I had planned them.”
“But you have to remember in the freestyle we don’t ‘go wrong’,” she added, “judges don’t know what you’re meant to be doing.”
Hannelore’s second gold matched her tally of two individual golds and a team silver at the 2008 Paralympics.
For full reports from the Paralympics, see H&H magazine 6 & 13 September