South Africa

SA Paralympic equestrian squad sponsorship enables Rio ambition

2016-04-26 14:49
Philippa Johnson-Dwyer (Simon Bertrand)

Cape Town - KwaZulu-Natal-based Gold Circle Horseracing and Betting has enabled three Paralympian equestrian contenders to realise their dreams of potentially competing in the Rio Paralympics 2016 campaign in September.

In an announcement made this week, Gold Circle confirmed that they will be sponsoring the possible ladies Dressage South Africa’s Paralympic equestrian squad.

The trio is delighted that the remaining sponsorship required for their potential entry into the Rio Paralympics 2016 campaign in September has been granted.

The final-three, Shani de Beer, Tamsin Mbatsha-Bouwer and Philippa Johnson-Dwyer, took a leap of faith by competing in Europe without sponsorship confirmation. They are currently in Belgium with the goal of qualifying for placement in the Paralympics in Rio.

Comments de Beer: “It was touch and go until the very last minute knowing if we would get sponsorship or not, so of course we are now thrilled to find out that we will be able to make our dreams a reality. We haven’t been sponsored before, so this is very big - it highlights the development of the sport in South Africa. We are grateful to our sponsors for their wonderful generosity. Thank-you Gold Circle!”

Under the sponsorship of Gold Circle, the squad is competing in three international events in Europe, the first of which has been completed in Deauville, France.

According to Ingeborg Sanne, who runs the international portfolio for Dressage SA, Philippa Johnson–Dwyer did extremely well - at medal level - scoring 75.6% for freestyle and 71.27% in individual and 71.29% in team categories. Shani de Beer scored 66.25% in freestyle, 64.94% in individual and 63.97% in team, while Tamsin Mbatsha-Bouwer received 64.28% for individual and 55.52% for team, in which she competed for the first time. She did not qualify for the freestyle category.

The second heats finished in Belgium this weekend (April 22-24) and the third will take place in Mannheim in Germany in May. The final results of all three heats will determine eligibility for entry into the Paralympic Games. The heats vary according to the grade of the rider’s physical impairment and there are five grades, each with its own list of physical disabilities.

The South African Paralympic equestrian squad competitors all have varying degrees of disability: Shani de Beer (23) has Cerebal Palsy Grade II, Tamsin Mbatsha-Bouwer (17) Cerebal Palsy Grade IB and Philippa Johnson- Dwyer (41) Spinal Cord Injuries Grade III.

The Paralympics in Rio offer three dressage classes that the potential ladies South African Paralympic equestrian squad can compete in: FEI Individual Test, FEI Team Test and FEI Freestyle. Based on their recent successes, there is little doubt that the South American continent is just a flight away for the South Africa team members.

Equine dressage competitions for riders with disabilities have their roots in the 1970s in Scandinavia and Great Britain, with South Africa’s first year of participation in the Paralympics in 1996.


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