British woman wins para-dressage freestyle gold medal

Organizers get high marks from athletes

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comOctober 11, 2010 

  • Results

    Grade IV

    Rider with country, horse and score

    Gold: S. Wells, Great Britain, Pinocchio, 78.50; Silver: M. George, Belgium, FBW Rainman, 78.05; Bronze: F. Hosmar, Netherlands, Tiesto, 77.25.

    4. A. Lübbe, Norway, Marlon Bomø, 74.45; 5. H. Sibbesen, Denmark, Rexton Royal, 73.1.

    Other: 10. S. Treabess, United States, Moneypenny, 69.65.

Sophie Wells won the individual freestyle para-dressage Sunday at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, helping Great Britain to a total of seven para-dressage golds for the Games.

Wells and her horse, Pinocchio, won in the Grade IV classification, for riders who are the least disabled. She was born with amniotic band syndrome, a disease in which fibrous bands of tissue affect her hands and ankles.

Wells moved ahead of Michele George of Belgium, who took the silver medal, and Frank Hosmar of the Netherlands, who won the bronze.

Great Britain's chef d'equipe, or manager, David Hunter attributed the team's domination of the para-equestrian discipline in part to being well-funded by the British lottery. That allows their riders to have a team of professionals, including medical personnel, to support them.

Another key to the success, Hunter said, is "having a plan as well as sticking to it and not just allowing things to be left to chance."

As the Games wrapped up Sunday, para-dressage athletes gave organizers high marks for the way their discipline was integrated into WEG for the first time.

"It's a step forward for disabled riders," Petra Van de Sande of the Netherlands said. Earlier in the Games, Van de Sande won a gold medal in the Grade II division — mainly for those who use wheelchairs — in the individual championship test.

Van de Sande injured her spinal cord in a parachuting accident.

Sara Morganti, a para-equestrian for Italy, said "it was all very well handled," with good transportation around the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park for disabled athletes.

"Everything was well organized, and people were very nice," she said.

Morganti has multiple sclerosis.

Sharon Jarvis of Australia said of the inclusion of para-dressage: "They've done a really good job of it.''

Jarvis won two bronze medals aboard Applewood Odorado in the Grade III division for the moderately disabled.

Jarvis said the atmosphere in the covered arena would have been improved by more fans.

"It would have been really great to see more spectators here," she said.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409.

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