Eques­trian star Baker se­lected for Rio 2016

Rider joins up with Team GB

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - By Hay­ley Fox tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

UXBRIDGE star Natasha Baker will com­pete in next month’s Par­a­lympic Games in Rio af­ter be­ing se­lected as one of five para-eques­trian riders to rep­re­sent Team GB.

Af­ter tri­umph­ing at Hart­pury Fes­ti­val of Dres­sage ear­lier this month, Baker is in great form ahead of the games and will ride her horse Cabral, who she rode to win dou­ble gold at Lon­don 2012.

Baker will joined by So­phie Chris­tiansen, Anna Dun­ham, Lee Pear­son and So­phie Wells in the Team GB squad.

Great Bri­tain’s eques­trian team have won gold at ev­ery games since the sport’s in­cep­tion at the 1996 Par­a­lympic Games, in At­lanta.

Out­side of the Par­a­lympics, the team also have an un­beaten record on the Euro­pean and world stage, de­spite in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

The se­lected team have 13 games’ worth of ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them and a shared haul of 30 Par­a­lympic medals.

Dan Hughes, team leader for eques­trian, said: ”We go to Rio with high ex­pec­ta­tions of these ath­letes, yet in the full knowl­edge that each and ev­ery medal will be hard fought for. I have no doubt that they will rise to this chal­lenge and make the coun­try proud.”

Chris­tiansen, 28, sets out to de­fend the three Par­a­lympic ti­tles she won at Lon­don 2012 and hopes peo­ple will get be­hind the team again as the Par­a­lympic Games con­tin­ues to grow.

She said: “I can’t wait to see what Rio has to of­fer, it will be a very dif­fer­ent Games to Lon­don but I think my time in Athens and Bei­jing has pre­pared me well.

“It’s been made even more spe­cial af­ter what I’ve gone through this year. The chal­lenges I’ve faced have made me come out even stronger and hope­fully I’ll em­u­late what I did in Lon­don.”

Rio will be Pear­son’s fifth Par­a­lympics, hav­ing won 10 gold medals in pre­vi­ous games. The 42-year-old is in touch­ing dis­tance of Tanni Grey-Thomp­son’s and Sarah Storey’s tally of 11 gold medals each.

Pear­son added: “My fifth one is sur­real. How para-dres­sage has de­vel­oped and how strong Great Bri­tain’s riders are, I do feel sur­prised on se­lec­tion, as it’s such a strong squad – it makes you ap­pre­ci­ate it even more.”

n MEDAL­LIST: Natasha Baker

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