She has eight Paralympic gold medals, so what fires the para star up for more? Martha Terry talks to Sophie about building a legacy and starting afresh
Sophie Christiansen spent much of lockdown itching to get back into the saddle. The para dressage star should have been using the past few months to ramp up her training for her fifth consecutive Paralympics, but plans have been on hold.
“This was the longest I hadn’t ridden for a very long while,” says Sophie, 32, who has been riding since the age of six as physiotherapy for her quadriplegic cerebral palsy. “I was really missing the horses.”
While the coronavirus crisis has played havoc with many people’s riding logistics, elite riders have largely been able to train at home as normal. But, until late June, Sophie had been grounded since February when, soon after winning the para winter championships on Innuendo III, he “was so pleased with himself for being national champion, he had a full-on bronking fit”. Sophie fell off and broke her shoulder. The ensuing lockdown meant Sophie had to wait even longer to get back on board, because her grade I disability means she needs three people to help her get on.
“That proved impossible until just a few days ago because of social distancing,” says Sophie, as we chat virtually over her breakfast of yogurt and berries after a strength and conditioning session.