A DRESSAGE rider’s ultimate dream of going for gold in the 2016 Paralympics has been given a huge boost to make that hope a reality, writes Hayley Paterson.
Determined Natasha Adkinson will receive top level mentoring and training to enhance her already performance-winning skills after being re-selected for the World Class Development Programme by the British Equestrian Federation.
The 19-year-old – who has Vacterl Syndrome which limits spinal mobility and makes her prone to dislocations – has already experienced success in her sport scooping several impressive accolades including Scottish Schools Equestrian winner and UK leading rider and young rider champion.
Now Bawtry rider Adkinson is training towards her ultimate goal of being a golden girl for Team GB’s paralympic squad in Rio, Brazil.
“I’m delighted to be back on the programme. I was part of it before and it really helped me with my training and my performances were so much better because of the extra mentoring I received,” said the Sheffield Hallam University geography student.
“I train all of the time and with my condition I have to have lots of physio and conditioning work so being part of the programme will help that.
“Riding does help my condition and makes me stronger which is extremely important because my joints are loose and I can dislocate bones quite easily.
“I train in Sheffield and can be in the gym alongside the likes of Jess Ennis.
“She will have a completely different workout to me but it is good to be surrounded by that type of success because it gives you that added boost to perform well and that’s exactly what I want to do everytime I get out there.
“I’m currently riding a horse called Undercover 7.
“He’s fantastic, we just seem to click and know what each other can do, I love him to bits.
“Rio is the dream and the training for that has already started and I’d say I’m well on course.
“It’s going really well, it’s intense but I love it.
“I’m so excited for the next Paralympics, I can’t wait.”
As part of the programme Adkinson, who was given her first pony at the age of nine and moved from Scotland for training and competitions, will be assessed every six months and challenged to meet certain targets.
Will Connell, equestrian world class performance director, added: “After such a fantastic 2012 which saw our equestrian athletes perform magnificently in London Games, it’s great to start 2013 with the announcement of the development programme which identifies our most talented up and coming athletes.
“The strength in-depth across all four disciplines made the selection process very difficult so I’m sure Natasha will make the most of the help and expertise available to her.”