Paralympics at Greenwich Park

So here we are back to post a little sooner than expected.  The equestrian paralympics at Greenwich Park was totally fab. Apparently there were 10,000 spectators and afterwards in a television interview it  was commented that this in itself was an adjustment for the horses and riders who are used to mainly being watched by the other teams.  Consequently some of the horses were a bit spooked.  This is all new to me, but the reason for bringing  a second horse into the arena is so the competing horse can see his buddy and feel reassured.  Which is a good thing as some of these were quite skittish when they came out.  Two riders were eliminated after failing to have control of their horses for more than 20 seconds.  This was heart breaking to see.  Witnessing it in person makes it even more poignant than seeing it on television.  So much hard work geared up to just five minutes in the arena. Gutting when it doesn't go to plan. I found myself welling up as Grace Bowman put her hands to her face and Antonella Cecilia briefly buried her face in her horses mane in distress.

Natasha Baker for Great Britain

When the horse above came out there was a ripple of laughter, compared to the other well manicured horses it did have the appearance of a cart horse with its big fluffy feet and tail.

We were lucky enough to see the session where Natasha Baker made her debut for GB and won gold.  So much flag waving and whooping went on, not to mention a stadium mexican wave. We went back to Pips in the afternoon and watched Lea Pearson on television get silver after winning nine gold medals at previous Olympics. His horse seemed to have been particularly affected by the crowds which is a huge shame for him and the only downside to seeing the paralympics so warmly supported.

Lea Pearson said in the papers this week: "I am just so proud of Britain, to get the crowds we have got at all of the venues and a sell out with the tickets is phenomenal." Having bronze busts made of him, and documentaries made about him was "all lovely and fluffy", but he added that the real victory of these Games was the increased visibility of disabled sports and athletes. "Public perception has changed and we are household names now,".

I would certainly agree with that.


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