Excitement is building as there’s only two days to go until the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Following this the Para-Equestrian athletes from 29 nations will compete in a bid for the most coveted medals in the sport.
The unbeaten Team GB will be hoping to retain their Team gold once again, and both Sophie Christiansen (GBR) the individual and Freestyle Grade 1a champion, and Natasha Baker (GBR), the individual and Freestyle Grade II champion are hoping to retain their individual crowns. Also returning are Michèle George (BEL), individual and Freestyle Grade IV champion and Pepo Puch (AUT), Freestyle Grade 1b champion.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will see Para-Equestrian sport celebrate 20 years in the Paralympic movement, with 14 countries fielding teams and a further 15 nations lining out with individuals at the Deodoro Equestrian Centre when Para-Equestrian Dressage gets underway on Sunday 11 September.
“The list of definite entries includes some great names out to retain their titles, as well as many new riders making their Paralympic debuts. We’re also very proud to welcome Uruguay to the family as they field a Para-Equestrian athlete for the first time,” said FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez.
An exciting list of debutants includes Rixt van der Hoorst (NED) who scooped both the individual titles at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FEA), 2014 and at the 2015’s FEI European Para-Equestrian Dressage championships in Deauville (FRA). Also making his Paralympic Games debut for the home nation, is Rodolpho Riskalla who has represented Brazil in Dressage at international level for a number of years before stepping back from the sport in 2014.
The debutants combine with some of the well-known names in the sport, including World Number two, Sara Morganti from Italy, Grade Ia silver and gold medallist at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2014™ and Ireland’s Helen Kearney who could both provide strong competition for the medals, as could the on-form Rebecca Hart from the USA. Great Britain’s Lee Pearson will be looking to add to his medal tally of 12 (including 10 golds), the highest of any Paralympic Equestrian.