Posted on 03/09/2012
Sophie Christiansen MBE became one of the golden girls of the London 2012 Paralympics when she won two gold medals in the individual and team dressage events at Greenwich Park over the weekend and a third gold on Tuesday riding to her personal choice of music in the freestyle event.
Sophie is a Royal Holloway alumna who studied Mathematics (MSci Maths, 2011) and became an Honorary Fellow of the College in May this year. Sophie started riding at the age of six with the Riding for the Disabled Association and has never looked back. She won two gold medals and one silver at Beijing in 2008 and a bronze in Athens in 2004, and recently returned to the College for an Olympic themed conference to recount her experiences and impressive achievements as a member of the British riding team.
After the medal ceremony Sophie said, “I couldn’t have asked for any more. I went in thinking this is just a training session – there just happened to be 10,000 people watching. I knew if I was focused on what I do in training I could do another 80-plus test. It was great to have my family and friends here to see me do this. And to win team gold with a Paralympic record, that’s amazing.”
Mark Hyndman, Sports Development Executive at Royal Holloway, who was there to cheer Sophie on during Sunday’s event, said: “It has been a delight working with Sophie and being part of her journey during her five years at the College, whilst she completed her Mathematics degree. Being lucky enough to get tickets for Sunday it was amazing to see her and her horse Rio compete and win Gold. I’m sure many people will agree that Sophie is such an inspiring individual and I’m sure she will have inspired the next generation of Paralympic athletes."
Equestrian events first appeared on the Paralympic programme at the 1984 Games held in Stoke Mandeville and New York, and have featured at every Games since Atlanta 1996.