Golden hat-trick for Britain on final day of Paralympic dressage

  • It was another golden afternoon in Rio for Great Britain with Lee Pearson, Sophie Christiansen and Natasha Baker all topping the podium in the freestyle.

    Lee Pearson went one better than his individual silver on Wednesday to claim gold with Zion, the 11th gold medal of his career.

    “I do think I have the most amazing horse — I love him to bits,” he said. “I wanted to go in there powerful and go down that centre line like we owned it. I wanted to say to the judges, ‘we are here’.

    “I’m in love with my team. I’m in love with the lottery. I’m in love with my family, my parents, my brothers, my groom, my partner — everybody that has kept me in the game, kept me here.”

    Austria’s Pepo Puch took silver with Fontainenoir, with Denmark’s Stinna Kaastrup claiming her secind bronze of the Games with Smarties.

    Lee Pearson riding Zion in the grade Ib team test at the Rio Paralympics

    Lee Pearson riding Zion at the Rio Paralympics

    ‘I knew we could do it’

    It was a British one-two once again in the grade Ia freestyle. Sophie Christiansen scored 79.7% — the highest mark of the competition — to take gold with Athene Lindebjerg. In doing so, Sophie has defended both her individual titles from London.

    “This year has been so up and down so to even get here was a feat in itself. Athene is such a young horse. I didn’t know how she would react, but she felt so relaxed with me today so I knew we could do it,” said Sophie.

    Anne Dunham had to settle for silver behind her teammate once again, posting 76.05% aboard Lucas Normark, and Brazil’s Sergio Oliva completed the podium line-up in bronze.

    Natasha Baker provided Britain with their third gold medal of the day when she defended her freestyle title with Cabral, at what is the 15-year-old Bujak gelding’s last championship. Dutch rider Rixt van der Horst held the lead until Natasha, the final rider of the Games into the arena, added 1.5% to finish on top with 77.25%. Steffen Zeibig and Feel Good 4 took bronze — the sole individual medal here for Germany.

    “I’ve run out of tears,” said Natasha. That was our last championship test together and it was magical. He has never been beaten at a Paralympics. He deserves to go out with a bang.”

    This brings Britain’s medal total from the Paralympic Games to 11, with six individual golds, four individual silvers and team gold.


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