Para equestrian: Q&A with Philippa Johnson-Dwyer

Get to know the South African rider ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 29 Aug 2016
Woman riding a horse

South Africa's Philippa Johnson-Dwyer riding her horse Lord Louis during the para-equestrian dressage competition on April 2016 in Deauville, France.

ⒸSimon Photo/Concours Para-équestre de Dressage International
By Robert Howell| For the IPC

South Africa’s Philippa Johnson-Dwyer (grade III) will compete in her third Paralympic Games in Rio, having made a golden debut by taking both individual gold medals in Beijing 2008. The medals did not come her way in London 2012 but with a strong 2016 season under her belt so far, that could change in September. How did you get into your sport?

Philippa Johnson-Dwyer (PJD): It was fate! My name in Greek means 'the lover of horses,' my star sign is Sagittarius - half horse half man - and my father is a show jumper! How could I not land up with horses?


What does it mean to you personally to represent South Africa at Rio 2016?

PJD: I think for every athlete in the world it's your dream to be able to represent your country at an Olympic or Paralympic Games.


How do you feel when you look back on your success at Beijing 2008?

PJD: Beijing was magical year but the whole of 2008 had been beyond amazing. My wonderful Benedict won every time he started that year, be it an able-bodied competition or a Para equestrian competition. It was a freak year!


If you had to pick five words to describe yourself what would they be?

PJD: Determined, dedicated, passionate, forthright, caring – according to my best friend.


Who do you see as your biggest rivals in Rio?

PJD: Ann Cathrin Lübbe (Norway), Sanne Voets (Netherlands), Lotte Krijnsen (Netherlands).


Do you have any superstitions or routines which you go through when competing?



What advice would you give any riders starting out in your sport?

PJD: Do this sport for the right reason: because you love your horse. If you do it for any other reason you aren't doing yourself, your horse or the sport justice.


If you could pick one thing about your sport what do you most enjoy?

PJD: The interaction with the horses.


If you could have dinner with anyone, living or not, who would that be?

PJD: That’s easy - either my husband James or my best friend Els!


Who is your biggest inspiration in life?

PJD: That's difficult as I have so many different people that inspire me and all for different reasons!


Para equestrian competition at Rio 2016 begins 11 September, with medal events taking place 13-16 September, at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro.



Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.

Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.