Golden girl rides into Paralympic record books

Sophie Wells
Sophie Wells
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HORSE-RIDER Sophie Wells, who finetunes her skills out of stables in Papplewick, is celebrating after landing a hat-trick of medals at the Paralympic Games.

Dressage star Sophie (pictured), of Newark, trains out of the Papplewick Equestrian Centre off the A60 Mansfield Road under coach Angela Weiss — herself a competitive rider.

Now 22-year-old Sophie has become one of the most decorated stars of the London Games after landing a gold and two silvers at Greenwich Park.

Her honours started to flow in the team test grade IV (gold) and a silver in the individual championship test.

But Wells wasn’t finished there, ensuring she said goodbye to London in style as she secured another silver riding her horse Pinocchio — this time in the individual freestyle test.

Wells’ score of 81.150 was only just short of the gold medal, which went to Belgium’s Michele George on Rainman with 82.100, but three medals on her Paralympics debut is not to be scoffed at.

And Wells insists her time in London has been a dream come true, especially since she got to share it with Pinocchio.

“Life will never be the same after this,” she said. “We’ll never be able to top the experience.

“I do this work because I fundamentally love horses. I don’t do it for the medals or anything like that.

“I will go home to my horses — I love them to bits — but it’s been great to share this with Pinocchio.

“He hears his music and loves it. The judges love it, we love it, so we keep it in.

“I lost my horse Touchdown with a foot tumour after Beijing. I’d heard ‘Noki’ was up for sale and rather cheekily asked if I could loan him.

“He’d just failed the vet because they said he had a heart murmur. I asked if he was sound — if he was fit and healthy — and I was given him on loan, it’s been an amazing journey.”

Despite being forced to settle for the silver, Wells still managed to produce a personal best in her final outing at Greenwich Park to ensure the good times carried on for Great Britain’s Paralympic equestrian team.

And she is more than happy to help spread the word to the rest of the nation of the joys of the sport she fell in love with.

“It’s weird – I never see myself as a role model,” she added. “I get hundreds of messages from people via the internet telling me I’m their idol, and it’s really hard to get my head around that.

“I just feel like a girl that loves riding ponies.

n LLOYDS TSB, proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and proud partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012