Par­a­lympic eques­trian star could still be rid­ing in her 60s

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­ios Pa­paloizou tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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