Lausanne (SUI), 14 September 2012 – Para-Equestrian at the London 2012 Paralympic Games has continued the clean sport success of the London 2012 Olympic Games with the news that all human and equine samples taken during the Para-Equestrian competitions at Greenwich Park have tested negative for prohibited substances.
Para-Equestrian Dressage, the only equestrian discipline included in the Paralympic Games, has been a regular fixture on the Paralympic event schedule since Atlanta 1996.
In 2006, the FEI became one of the first International Federations to govern and regulate a sport for para-athletes when Para-Equestrian Dressage joined the ranks of the FEI’s seven disciplines. All equine athletes competing in the Paralympic Games are now tested according to the FEI’s Equine Anti-Doping Rules.
Greenwich, UK – The Para-Equestrian Dressage portion of the 2012 Paralympic Games came to a close on Tuesday with Freestyle Test being ridden in Grades IV, III and 1a. Donna Ponessa was the lone U.S. representative on the day, performing her Grade 1a Freestyle in front of the Ground Jury of Kjell Myhre, Lilian Iannone, Gudrun Hofinga, Sarah Rodger and Freddy Leyman.
Ponessa (New Windsor, NY) closed out the 2012 Paralympic Games for the U.S. in fine style scoring 70.75% with Wesley Dunham’s Western Rose. The pair upped the difficulty in their test by including trot work. Ponessa also showed her New York roots selecting a medley of Broadway show tunes to complement the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare’s gaits.
The trot work not only added a degree of difficulty to the test but also helped keep Western Rose’s attention and allowed her to maintain a forward walk.
London (GBR), 4 September 2012 – Today was the last day of Para-Equestrian Dressage at the Paralympic Games with Grades IV, III and Ia competing for Freestyle medals.
It was an exact replica of the Individual Championship podiums on Saturday in Grades IV and III with Belgium’s Michele George and Rainman picking up their second gold medal at the Games followed by Sophie Wells (GBR) and Frank Hosmar (NED), whilst in Grade III Hannelore Brenner from Germany secured her fourth Paralympic gold (2 in 2008, 2 in 2012) ahead of Deborah Criddle (GBR) and Annika Dalskov (DEN). In Grade Ia, it was another foot-perfect performance from Sophie Christiansen and Janeiro 6 to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘We don’t need no education’ ahead of Laurentia Tan from Singapore and Helen Kearney from Ireland in Grade Ia.
The equestrian events of London 2012 are officially over… The athletes, their stories and their sporting ability and ambition as well as the many individuals and volunteers working behind the scenes have made it an incredible Games and without a doubt the best Para-Equestrian Dressage has ever seen. The quality of the horses and the strong partnerships they form with their riders has been impressive across all the Grades, has produced lots of Paralympic records and seen new nations come to the fore in a sport that has been dominated for years by a select few.
Greenwich, UK – The United States spent much of Monday on the edge of their seats as riders produced top class performances throughout the day at the 2012 Paralympic Games. American riders came within slim margins of vaulting themselves onto the medal podium as they earned their best scores of the week.
Both Rebecca Hart and Jonathan Wentz rode their best tests of the Games to jump to the top of the leaderboard, then saw their totals eclipsed by the final rides in their divisions. Both finished their respective Freestyle Championships in fifth place.
Hart (Unionville, PA) entered the main arena on Monday morning with redemption on her mind. The Grade II competitor was determined to earn higher marks then she had in the Individual Test, a performance she had higher expectations for then her 11th place finish. In the Freestyle Test, 27-year-old Hart was able to get the effort she wanted out of Jessica Ransehousen’s Lord Ludger. The Oldenburg gelding produced a flowing and active Freestyle, which had an added degree of difficulty by including lateral work to score 73.250%.
London (GBR), 3 September 2012 – A hot, sunny and musical day in Greenwich Park with the Freestyle tests for Grades II and Ib centre stage in the packed arena. It was a repeat performance from Saturday’s Grade II Individual Championship test with Natasha Baker picking up her second gold medal, followed by Britta Napel on her third silver medal (she also won team silver) and Angelika Trabert, winning her second bronze medal of the Games, alongside the team silver.
Lots of suspense and good horsemanship this afternoon in Grade Ib with British legend Lee Pearson relinquishing the Freestyle title he has held onto for so long, settling into bronze medal position while Pepo Puch from Austria was crowned the new Freestyle champion. This also goes down in the history books as Austria’s first gold medal at the equestrian events of the Paralmypic Games since 1996, alongside the first bronze medal he won on Saturday. For Finland, it’s a first appearance on the London 2012 Para-Equestrian Dressage medals table with a silver medal winning performance from Katja Karjalainen in Grade Ib.
London (GBR), 2 September 2012 – It was huge day of sport, with 39 combinations competing for individual honours as well as team points in Grades IV, III and Ia, three Individual Championship medal ceremonies, three new champions, and last but certainly not least the overall Team score.
The day got off to a spectacular start for all Belgians with Michele George and Rainman claiming their first gold medal at London 2012, both Olympic and Paralympic and across all sports. Their achievement also goes down in the history books as the first equestrian gold medal for Belgium at a Paralympic Games since Para-Equestrian joined the programme in 1996. Next came a stand-out performance from Germany’s Hannelore Brenner and Women of the World to retain their 2008 Paralympic title whilst in Grade Ia, Sophie Christiansen did the home crowd proud with another brilliant test that was verging on perfection.
Meanwhile, as the day progressed, the team scores began to take shape… It was clear that Great Britain was on the road to gold and that unless things went terribly wrong, Germany was assured a silver. However bronze was up for grabs with the Danes, the Dutch, Belgium and Ireland within inches of the podium. It was literally in the closing stages when Helen Kearney and Mister Cool, third last to go in Grade Ia, produced a brilliant test to earn a score of 76.700 taking not only individual silver but putting Ireland in third place on 428.313 with just over half a point on The Netherlands’ score of 428.253.
Greenwich, UK – Sunday saw the conclusion of the Team Championship as well medals awarded for individual performances in Grade IV, III and 1a competition at the 2012 Paralympic Games. The host nation took medals by the handful claiming two Individual Silvers, an Individual Gold and Team Gold. This is the fifth time Great Britain has earned the top spot on the team podium since 1996 when Para-Equestrian Dressage was first included in the Paralympic Games. Claiming Silver behind Great Britain was the team from Germany with Ireland earning Bronze.
The U.S. team put in determined efforts in both the Team and Individual Tests and finished in seventh place.
Donna Ponessa (New Windsor, NY) was the only American to ride on Sunday and gained valuable experience in Greenwich’s impressive Stadium. Ponessa finished in sixth place in the Grade 1a Team Test with Wesley Dunham’s Western Rose. The pair scored 69.2% in a test that was highlighted by a beautiful free walk and where Ponessa earned high marks for her position.
London (GBR), 1 September 2012 – Lots of firsts today with the first equestrian medals of the London 2012 Paralmypic Games won by first-time Paralympians. Natasha Baker in Grade II continued to perform superbly today winning gold with Cabral whilst in Grade Ib, Australia’s Joann Formosa and Worldwide PB created quite commotion when winning gold ahead of Lee Pearson, Paralympic champion since 2000.
Dreams come true in Grade II Paralympic débutant Natasha Baker riding the ever so handsome Cabral achieved her childhood dream, gold at the Paralympics on a Grade II record score of 76.857%. “From the age of 10 when I watched the Sydney Paralympics on television I said I would come to a Paralympic Games and win a gold medal”, recalled the 22-year-old. “I had always wanted to be a rider, and to be here and do what we’ve done today is just incredible. The horses make it what it is – they are just amazing animals. If I have inspired one person to go out there and do any sport, then I will be over the moon. It was Lee Pearson and the other riders who inspired me when I was 10 years old.”
Greenwich, UK – Donna Ponessa (West Windsor, NY) had a long time to wait before she was able to make her debut at the 2012 Paralympic Games. But she made it worth the wait as she piloted Wes Dunham’s Western Rose to a score of 70.235% in front of the Ground Jury of Kjell Myhre, Sarah Rodger, Gudrun Hofinga, Freddy Leyman and Anne Prain.
Riding in Grade 1a competition, Ponessa produced a steady, rhythmic test with the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare to earn fifth place. Western Rose is well known for her free walk and did not disappoint today producing high marks for the movement. Ponessa was also proud of her improved serpentine but knows what she will be working on in the coming days.
“Our free walks are our favorite part of the tests,” said Ponessa. “I feel finally that she was listening and we got the serpentine down. I still feel I need to get more forward, more with her on our centerlines. If she doesn’t have enough forward there is too much wiggle. I was so pleased when I hit A and I looked and I saw the bend of her neck and I could feel her body following.”
London (GBR), 31 August 2012 – On this second day of competition, the remaining three Grades – IV, III and Ia – took centre stage for their first London 2012 Paralympic outing to perform in the Team test. All five Grades have now completed the team test and the all-time record holders Great Britain have taken a strong and early lead. The way the team score works is that the best three scores in the team test from each nation are added to the best three scores in the Individual Championships test to decide the winner. The Individual Championship tests will be taking place over the weekend and count for both the team score and for individual medal honours.
A cold but spirited start to the day in Grade IV It was a beautiful but cold day in Greenwich Park with big blue skies to greet the spectators for a 9am start and another winning British performance this time by Sophie Wells, a Paralmypic debutant, but nonetheless current World and European champion. Riding Pinocchio, the 22-year-old posted an international personal best score of 75.906%, giving Great Britain a second top mark towards their overall team score. Belgium’s Michele George came in second place amongst the fourteen riders competing in Grade IV, including former Paralympic Champion Philippa Johnson from South Africa and two of her team mates – Ciska Vermeulen and Ulricke Dekeyzer. Frank Hosmar, Individual silver and bronze medallist from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky also delivered the goods, with a score of 71.781 towards the Dutch team score.