Triple gold medallist Sophie Christiansen's "great time" at ParalympicsBy Jonathan Low
September 10, 2012
Equestrian dressage rider Sophie Christiansen became Britain’s first triple gold medallist Paralympian on Tuesday evening after emerging victorious in the freestyle event at Greenwich Park.
It capped a memorable Paralympics for the 24-year-old, who also won gold in the individual and team events earlier on in the competition.
Sophie, who is from Ascot and has cerebral palsy, said: “I was always going to enjoy that, and that was key.
“I kind of played it a little safer today to stay relaxed and keep the horse’s rhythm going, and it paid off.
“I did everything I could going into the Games – I’ve had a great time.
“I knew I could potentially win three gold medals, but I wanted to keep that quiet and then let the results speak for themselves.”
Royal Mail has already painted one postbox gold in her hometown of Sunningdale, but her medal haul means two more post boxes will get the golden treatment, once she’s decided where she would like them.
The former Charters pupil finished with a score of 84.750 per cent, more than five per cent over her nearest challenger, Singapore’s Laurentia Tan.
Her freestyle routine featured musical extracts ranging from Land of Hope and Glory, to the chimes of Big Ben and even something from rock band Muse.
She added: “Sometimes I can get a bit carried away, but I relaxed and gave it everything I could.
“Knowing my friends and family were in the audience was really special.
“Some of them had never seen me on a horse – let alone winning a medal.”
Speaking before the Paralympics, Sophie said she hoped the games would prove to be a great advert for disabled sport and encourage others to participate in sport.
She was quick to pay tribute to where she started.
“Much of the success is due to the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) at the grass-roots level,” she said.
“We wouldn’t be in the position we are now without the RDA, and I hope it inspires people to take up the sport.”
London was Sophie’s third and most successful Paralympic Games, with an impressive collection of seven medals in total, a fantastic five of which are gold.
As a 16-year-old Sophie won a bronze medal in Athens in 2004, before claiming two golds and a silver in Hong Kong in 2008.
Sophie’s success at Greenwich Park began when she claimed gold in the Individual Championship Test Grade 1a final on Sunday.
Despite having the pressure of being the first rider out to perform in front of the 10,000-strong crowd, she achieved 82.750 per cent, six per cent higher than second placed rider Helen Kearney from Ireland.
Her performance helped contribute to Great Britain’s final score of 468.817, which saw them win gold in the team event ahead of Germany and Ireland.
It was the team’s best display at a Paralympics, with a record-breaking eleven medals over the six days of competition.