Posted on 03/09/2012
Sophie's gold win secures her a commemorative First Class stamp
Golden girl Sophie Christiansen MBE, who graduated with a Masters degree in Mathematics from Royal Holloway last summer, became the country's first triple gold medallist of the London 2012 Paralympics after claiming victory in equestrian's Grade Ia freestyle yesterday (Tuesday, 4 September). This followed her victories in the Individual Grade 1a test on Sunday and in the Team event. With her new horse Janeiro 6 (known to all as Rio), Sophie has set new standards in the Paralympic equestrian world, her winning scores being Paralympic Dressage records. Sophie’s three gold medals also helped to secure a British Paralympic record haul of 11 medals in one Games for Great Britain's equestrian team, and there were only 11 medals available to any one team this year. This follows her successes in Beijing in 2008, when she returned home with two gold and one silver medal, and her bronze medal in Athens in 2004.
Sophie, who became an Honorary Fellow of the College in May, has cerebral palsy and started riding at the age of six with the Riding for the Disabled Association and has never looked back.
Speaking after Sunday’s medal ceremony she 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.”
Sophie also won two gold medals and one silver at Beijing in 2008 and a bronze in Athens in 2004 which she brought along to the College’s Olympic celebration Day in March to mark Royal Holloway’s role as the official Rowing and Sprint Canoe Olympic and Paralympic Village. Sophie also spoke about her experiences and impressive achievements at a special Olympic Conference held at the College in April.
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."