Dressage: Day three preview

Chance to put London behind them for Pearson and Wells – but pair face tough competition from rivals Puch and George. 14 Sep 2016
a man smiles on a horse

Great Britain's Lee Pearson was knighted for his services to sport and his charity work

By Robert Howell | For the IPC

Following the excitement of Tuesday’s (13 September) closely-fought grade III individual test, the medals really start to flow at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro on Wednesday (14 September).

Two more will be handed out – the grades IV and Ib individual tests – and both have the most competitive fields seen in a long time.

In the grade Ib test, Great Britain’s Lee Pearson will be looking to reclaim some gold having been the champion in this grade from Sydney in 2000 all the way through to Beijing in 2008.

In one of the upsets of the London 2012 Games, however, Pearson failed to win a single individual title, picking up a silver and a bronze. Victory in the individual would take his Paralympic medal tally to 11 golds, cementing his position as one of his country’s greatest Paralympians, and one of its most decorated of the modern era.

But Pearson will face a tough test against double European champion, and London 2012 Ib freestyle champion, Pepo Puch. The pair have gone back and forth trading wins over the past couple of years and spectators can expect a similar tussle in Rio.

Hot on that pair’s heels will be the Netherlands’ Nicole Den Dulk, a world and European bronze medalist, and Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kasstrup.

Pearson’s Great Britain team mate Sophie Wells also has a chance to win her first Paralympic gold medal when she rides in the grade IV individual on Wednesday morning. Wells, who lost out to Belgium’s Michèle George in London 2012 and at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014, will again face tough competition from George and the Netherlands’ European champion Frank Hosmar.

Reigning grade IV champion George, however, is keeping things cool. “I’m not thinking about gold medals,” she said. “Of course we work for that but I want to enjoy the ride, see that he (her horse FBW Rainman) is happy and that we are working as a team together. I’ll try to do my best but I’m not thinking in terms of gold medals. I want to be on the podium for sure but it will be what it will be.”

Whatever the results of the medal competition, those riders who are part of their country’s team will also see their individual results count towards the overall team score, which will be decided at the end of the individual tests on Thursday (15 September).