• Christine Keate

Para Dressage Gold for awesome Team GB


L to R: Rixt van der Horst - Findsley, Sanne Voets - Demantur, Frank Hosmar - Alphavile (NED) Silver medalists; Lee Pearson - Breezer, Sophie Wells - Don Cara M, Natasha Baker - Keystone Dawn Chorus (GBR) Gold medalists; Kate Shoemaker - Solitaer 40, Roxanne Trunnell - Dolton, Rebecca Hart - El Corona Texel (USA) Bronze medallists. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

What an absolutely amazing result for our dressage Paralympians – not one experienced horse between them but, they still snatched the gold medal from the Dutch team and the USA, who gained bronze in their first Paralympic Team podium finish.


Continuing their seemingly unbreakable hold on the Para Dressage Team title, which started in Atlanta 1996, the GB trio of Sir Lee Pearson (Grade II), Natasha Baker (Grade III) and Sophie Wells (Grade V) scored 229.905 to finish just 0.656 ahead of The Netherlands’ 229.249. The USA took the bronze medal with 224.352; the first time the podium hasn’t been made up of all European teams.


How does it work?

There are three athletes per team. Each Grade competes separately in its own Team Test – the complexity of movements being defined by Grade. The combined results of each of the teams’ three athletes determine the overall score with the highest scoring team winning gold. This 2020 competition was run over two days, starting with the athletes from Grades I, II and III performing on day 1, leaving Grades IV and V to seal the deal the following day.


Speaking after their medal ceremony, Natasha Baker tried to sum up how the team felt. “I don’t think any of us expected that in a million, trillion, gazillion years to be honest. We’re all so immensely proud of everything our horses have done in the last few days.”


“We had no expectation that we could achieve that” Sophie Wells continued. “We genuinely thought it was impossible in the most realistic way. We all have horses that have never done this or been against anyone else. The Dutch are so strong and secure on their horses and we’re not.”


“We haven’t even got any championship horses on this team,” added Sir Lee Pearson.


Team Leader Georgia Sharples paid tribute to the team saying: “I just think these guys are undefeated Paralympic champions but in a whole new context. You’ve heard about the inexperienced horsepower, but never underestimate these guys and what a job they did out there on that field of play.”


With just Freestyle competition left to go, the top eight individual riders in each Grade will be back in the arena tomorrow.




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