Dres­sage hope­fuls find a spon­sor

CityPress - - Sport -

Three of South Africa’s top fe­male Par­a­lympian eques­trian con­tenders have been given the op­por­tu­nity to per­haps take part in the Rio Par­a­lympics this year.

Shani de Beer, Tam­sin Mbat­sha-Bouwer and Philippa John­son-Dwyer have been com­pet­ing in Europe with­out spon­sor­ship con­fir­ma­tion while hop­ing to qual­ify for place­ment at the Par­a­lympics.

Their luck has just changed, with the KwaZulu-Natal-based Gold Cir­cle Horse Rac­ing and Bet­ting an­nounc­ing they will spon­sor the SA Ladies eques­trian Par­a­lympic dres­sage team.

Un­der the spon­sor­ship of Gold Cir­cle, the squad is com­pet­ing in three in­ter­na­tional events in Europe, the first of which was com­pleted in Deauville, France.

Ac­cord­ing to Inge­borg Sanne, who runs the in­ter­na­tional port­fo­lio for Dres­sage SA, John­son-Dwyer did ex­tremely well – at medal level – scor­ing 75.6% for freestyle, 71.27% in in­di­vid­ual and 71.29% in team cat­e­gories. De Beer scored 66.25% in freestyle, 64.94% in in­di­vid­ual and 63.97% in team, while Mbat­sha-Bouwer re­ceived 64.28% for in­di­vid­ual and 55.52% for team, in which she com­peted for the first time. She did not qual­ify for the freestyle cat­e­gory. The se­cond heats fin­ished in Bel­gium last week­end and the third will take place in Mannheim in Ger­many in May. The fi­nal re­sults of all three heats will de­ter­mine eli­gi­bil­ity for en­try into the Par­a­lympic Games. The heats vary ac­cord­ing to the grade of the rider’s phys­i­cal im­pair­ment, and there are five grades, each with its own list of phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.

The South African Par­a­lympic eques­trian squad com­peti­tors all have vary­ing de­grees of dis­abil­ity: De Beer (23) has cere­bral palsy grade II, Mbat­sha-Bouwer (17) cere­bral palsy grade IB and John­son- Dwyer (41) spinal cord in­juries grade III.

“It was touch and go un­til the very last minute, know­ing if we would get spon­sor­ship or not, so of course we are now thrilled to find out that we will be able to make our dreams a re­al­ity. We haven’t been spon­sored be­fore, so this is very big – it high­lights the de­vel­op­ment of the sport in South Africa.

“We are grate­ful to our spon­sors for their won­der­ful gen­eros­ity,” said De Beer.

Press correspondent – City

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