The Paralympics run in parallel to the main Olympics (hence the name) and are sport events for elite athletes with a physical disability or vision impairment. They are designed to emphasise the participant’s athletic achievements, not their disability.
Equestrianism is open to all disability groups, with riders divided into five grades. Having suffered severe Spinal Cord Injury and now totally wheelchair bound, I am eligible for Grade 1, which is the most severely disabled and Grade 5 the least. Each rider is classified by two classifiers from different countries – their mobility, strength and coordination are assessed in order to establish a profile number which places them in a grade.
Para-equestrian Dressage became a Paralympic sport in 1996 at the Atlanta games, when 16 teams participated. This rose to 34 teams at Sydney 2000, 38 teams at Athens 2004. 24 nations were represented at the Beijing 2008 games. (84 athletes participated, not all in teams). It takes 4 people per country to make a team and many countries cannot find the funding to send a full team.
Team Great Britain, showing their supremacy in horsemanship, captured team Gold in Equestrian Dressage at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, delivering a 100% record since Atlanta 1996.
I very much want to play a part in a further victory for the GB Team in Tokyo 2020 and really believe that given the right level of support, I have the capability and qualities to go all the way with Team GB.