Italian equestrian Sara Morganti has been voted the International Paralympic Committee’s best female Allianz Athlete of the Month for August following her performance at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy.
The Tuscany-born Para-Equestrian Dressage rider scored an outstanding Freestyle Grade 1a gold medal with her mare Royal Delight ahead of British Paralympic and reigning world champion Sophie Christiansen and Singapore’s most-decorated Paralympic athlete Laurentia Tan.
Morganti, who also won Individual Grade 1a silver at the Games in Normandy, beat five champions to the top spot in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) poll from the worlds of canoeing, athletics, swimming and sailing following a bumper month of global para-sport.
Since her international début at the first FEI European Para-Dressage Championships in 2009 in Kristiansand (NOR), where she won Freestyle bronze with chestnut stallion Dollaro de Villanova, Morganti has gone on with Royal Delight to secure Freestyle bronze at both the 2011 Championships in Moorsele (BEL) and the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships 2013 in Herning (DEN). Since coming fourth at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in Greenwich Park, where her nine-year-old mare was the youngest horse to compete, she has been trying to edge past her highly experienced rivals.
With over 40 per cent of the votes, Morganti said: “I’m so happy that so many have voted for me – it’s incredible. The support of all these people will be an additional reason to focus on doing the best I can every single day. Before the Games in Normandy my dream was to qualify for Rio 2016, but after winning two medals there my dream is now to win a Paralympic medal. Obviously Royal Delight will have an extra portion of carrots for this new fantastic achievement!”
Great Britain’s Jeannette Chippington (GBR), second in the IPC poll, was crowned a seven-time para-canoe world champion with two more titles at the 2014 ICF Canoe World Championships in Moscow (RUS), despite taking up canoeing only in 2012.
Teresa Perales (ESP), voted third, won a staggering four gold medals at the 2014 IPC Swimming Championships in Eindhoven (NED), with Manuela Schaer (SUI) and Margarita Goncharova (RUS), coming fourth and fifth after each achieving four golds at the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea (GBR). Liesl Tesch (AUS) placed sixth in the IPC poll after scoring her first-ever world title with her partner Daniel Fitzgibbon at the 2014 IFDS Combined Sailing World Championships in Halifax (CAN).
Lee Pearson, the ten-time Paralympic Games gold medallist in Grade 1b, who scored triple gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy (FRA), and helped to secure Great Britain’s team spot at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, was shortlisted for the best male Allianz Athlete of the Month for August, but was pipped to the post by the Ukraine’s Yevheniy Bohodayko who won seven gold medals at the 2014 IPC Swimming European Championships.
The nominations for the Allianz Athlete of the Month are compiled from submissions by National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and International Federations (IFs), with voting open to the public. TheBest Youngster category for the Allianz Athlete of the Month for August will soon be live at www.paralympic.org.