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Kiwi para-equestrians score European grant

December 9, 2011

Three Kiwi para-equestrian riders are among 15 world-wide to be awarded a share of a London 2012 training grant.

New Zealand para-equestrian Frances Dick. © ESNZ
The 15 para-equestrians from five countries have secured a share of a €25,500 grant from Eurovestech plc, the pan-European development capital fund.

Three riders from Hong Kong, Israel, New Zealand, Poland and Russia will use the grants to fund their training, with London 2012 Paralympic qualification as their major goal.

The grants were launched in July this year to support Para-Equestrians from nations where funding is limited and who have not won medals at the Paralympics, World Championships or World Equestrian Games since 2004.

The three New Zealanders - Frances Dick, Joanna Jackson and Rachel Stock - are in Australia this week for the 2012 Paralympic Games Oceania qualifier in Werribee, where they will compete today alongside riders from US, Japan, and Australia in the team test.

New Zealand will go head-to-head with Australia to secure a team place (four athletes and four horses) in Greenwich.

Frances Dick said she was delighted to be awarded a training grant. "My dream of bringing home a medal from the London 2012 Paralympics has just got a whole lot closer and the grant comes at a time when funding is critical in the countdown to 2012."

The International Paralympic Committee last week ranked Paralympic Equestrian fourth on its "hottest" Paralympic sports to watch list. Spectator numbers for Paralympic Equestrian hit a record 40,000 even before remaining tickets went on sale last Friday.

Trond Asmyr, FEI Director of Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage welcomed the announcement of successful grant applicants. "The training grants will help our Paralympic hopefuls to focus clearly on their goals as we count down to London 2012," he said.

"The spectator numbers at the London 2012 Paralympics will be phenomenal, and are already considerably higher than at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic equestrian events in Hong Kong where there were 33,000 people. This is helping to spur on our Para-Equestrian athletes who have competed at several Games, and for those who will be competing for the first time it will be an unforgettable experience."

Chief Executive Officer of the International Paralympic Committee Xavier Gonzalez said the grants are a welcome boost for the athletes who are training intensely for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. "The IPC is looking forward to seeing riders representing a wide range of nations in London."

• On 31 January it will be known which nations have qualified to send teams and individuals to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and by 6 August 2012 these nations will have made their individual and team selections.

A total of 78 athletes will compete in 11 medal events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games between 30 August and 4 September in Greenwich Park.

In 2006, the FEI became one of the first International Federations to govern and regulate a sport for disabled athletes when Para-Equestrian Dressage joined the ranks of the seven disciplines the FEI regulates.

Para-Equestrian Dressage is the only equestrian discipline that is included in the Paralympic Games, where it has been a regular fixture since Atlanta 1996.



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