EQUESTRIAN AIMS FOR MORE GOLDS
Paralympic equestrian star could still be riding in her 60s
SHE may have two Paralympic equestrian gold medals to her name already, but Uxbridge’s Natasha Baker has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
Baker took individual championship and freestyle gold on Cabral in London 2012 and has since turned her attentions to Rio.
While she admits it was difficult to move on from glory in 2012, she says there are plenty of challenges on the horizon.
The 24-year-old has already shown her determination to continue at the top, claiming triple gold at last year's European Championships and a gold and silver at this year's World Equestrian Games.
And Baker says she has no plans to let up just yet.
“I live and breathe horses and its part of me so I will be around for a long time,” said Baker.
“I want to go out on a high and the good thing about our sport is that you can keep going for a very long time.
“There's a lady in our team who is in her 60s, so that means I could have 40 more years of competing.
“Maybe I won't go for that long, but I can't see myself retiring any time soon.
“I'm definitely where I want to be now in terms of my preparations for Rio. It is less than two years away now and I think it's a really exciting time to be back in the midst of that cycle again.”
Baker, who was speaking at Get Set to Make a Change celebrations at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge, admits London will always have a special place in her heart.
But she insists she is not taking anything for granted in her quest to add to her Paralympic titles.
“London was a massive step forward for Paralympics because before I think they were always seen as the aftermath, whereas they were really seen on equal terms in London,” she added.
“For us it's really exciting to look forward to the future of Paralympics. You have got to put previous success to the back of your mind, because we are riding live animals and anything can happen at any time.
“Although I've won medals in the past, that doesn't guarantee me anything this time around.
“London gave me amazing memories, but I can't be complacent and I have to keep going out there and keep achieving up to Rio.”
Through GSTMC, the British Olympic Foundation, in conjunction with the British Paralympic Association is using the spirit of the London Games to re-inspire young people across the UK. The project is being supported by a £2.5m grant from the Big Lottery Fund's Keeping the Spirit of 2012 Alive campaign. Visit www.makeachange.org.uk for more information.
n GOLDEN GIRL: Natasha Baker shows off her medal from the 2012 Olympics