Despite poor weather conditions Britain’s riders were on fine form at the World Para-Dressage Championships, winning 13 medals, including six golds, to top the medal table.
Paralympic champion Lee Pearson led the British team - which also included Anne Dunham, Michelle Crunkhorn and Simon Laurens - to gold in the team event. This victory means that the British team has now won three consecutive world championship titles and qualified for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
Athens Paralympic Games gold medallist Pearson, who was riding new horse Altino following the recent retirement of Blue Circle Boy, followed this up with gold in both the grade 1b individual and freestyle tests. In the individual competition he scored 77 per cent to finish above Australia’s Nicole Kullen in second place and fellow Brit, Ricky Balshaw, who took the bronze.
Newcomer Lauren’s also followed up his team success with a second gold in the grade 3 individual test, beating fellow Brit and Paralympic champion Debbie Criddle into second place. In the grade 3 freestyle competition however Criddle turned the tables on Laurens to finish in bronze medal position, while Laurens missed out on a third medal, finishing in 4th place.
Berkshire teenager Sophie Christiansen took gold in the grade 1a freestyle competition, just ahead of team mate and rival Anne Dunham, who took silver. Sophie had already won bronze in the individual competition, having scored 72 per cent to place behind Sergio Oliva of Brazil and Slaven Hudina of Croatia.
Paralympian Nicola Tustain, from Denbighshire, was the third rider to pick up individual gold winning the grade 2 test. Nicola, who was riding her veteran horse HotStuff, because current ride Prinz Heinrich is injured, then went on to take silver in the freestyle competition, with team mate Felicity Coulthard in bronze medal position.
As this was the last major championships before next year’s Paralympic Games these results put the GB team in good position to build on the success of the Athens 2004 Games, where Britain’s Para-Equestrian riders topped the medal table with five golds and three bronze medals.
Around 142 riders from 33 countries competed in the 2007 World Para-Dressage Championships, which took at Hartpury College, Gloucester from July 18 to 22.
For further information about the British Paralympic Association, please contact Sian Davies in the Press Office on 0207 211 5240 or 07721 892686 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For news updates visit the BPA website at www.paralympics.org.uk
Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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