Equestrian star Baker selected for Rio 2016
Rider joins up with Team GB
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