Tokyo 2020 contender receives ‘game-changing’ donation

  • A gold medal-winning Paralympian has received a “game-changing” donation to her crowdfunding campaign in her bid to compete at Tokyo 2020.

    Dressage rider Sophie Christiansen has been given £15,000 by the Tim Lewis Trust towards a second horse to campaign at the Games and to help with ongoing costs.

    The Tim Lewis Trust was founded by trustees Mark Taylor, David Anderson, Tony Byrne and Nick Bunting in honour of Tim Lewis who died on 5 April 2010. Tim was a senior executive working in the financial services, retailing and distribution industries and was involved in charities Coachwise and Sports Coach UK. The trust gives grants to people to produce innovative research in sport.

    Sophie told H&H: “The donation is amazing. Everyone knows how expensive equestrian sport is and my plan was always to go to Tokyo with two horses, because as you know anything can happen. If I hadn’t had two in the build-up to Rio 2016 I wouldn’t have even gone to the Paralympics because Athene (Athene Lindebjerg) was injured for most of that year so I had to be selected on my horse Rio (Janerio 6) and then Athene was swapped in before the Games so I know first-hand how important it is to have two horses. It sounds greedy but it’s not, I’d love to just have one but I just can’t take that chance. It will take the pressure of Harry (Amazing Romance) a bit too.

    “The instant I started talking with the Tim Lewis Trust I knew it would be a great trust to be involved with. They help fund sporting products but are also interested in innovative technology and I work in technology so we really matched. The trust is amazing and I am so relieved they gave me that donation, I was wondering how I was going to cope financially if I had to buy the horse with my own money so they’ve taken an enormous amount of pressure off me and I can go back to doing what I do best which is riding horses.”

    Sophie is the first equestrian the trust has supported.

    Mr Anderson told H&H: “We are always looking for sporting stories where the knowledge of a donation gets the receiver nearer the line or over the line. Sophie had raised quite a bit of money herself when our trustee Mark met her, he was very impressed with her determination to raise the money.

    “Tim would have loved the idea that his trust is funding Sophie and there is potential of a Paralympic gold or even just getting her to Tokyo 2020. The four trustees agreed it was a very good cause and that’s the sort of thing we raised the money for, so we could encourage people. Sophie has done so much for herself and we wanted to step in and give her even more encouragement and let her know that there are people who understand the challenges she has faced and overcome already.”

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    Sophie has started the search for a second ride which she said has been a “rollercoaster journey” and is trialling a horse next month.

    The cost of power horses has gone up dramatically because the standard has gone up, which is amazing for the sport,” she said. “I knew I needed the general public’s help with this, not just to buy a second horse but for the upkeep because I have to have my horses on full livery because I can’t look after them myself. Having two horses will mean my mimimum monthly outgoings will be £2,500 which is a lot of money.”

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