Star horse-rider and coach at Paralympics

Sophie Wells

Sophie Wells

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A DISABLED horse-rider who trains out of stables in Papplewick under the wing of expert Dispatch district coach Angela Weiss has been selected for the Great Britain Paralympics team.

Sophie Wells (21) is a star of the equestrian world and hones her skills at the Papplewick Equestrian Centre on the A60 Mansfield Road.

Now she has her crop firmly pointing in the direction of London 2012 as the countdown to the Paralympics begin.

Her selection was confirmed by the British Paralympic Association (BPA) as a member of a team of five who are expected to bring home several medals.

Angela, who is well-known as a dressage competitor in her own right at national and international events, will also play a role at the event as assistant coach to the team.

Of Sophie’s selection, she said: “I am absolutely delighted. We’ve worked very hard towards this and she really deserves it.

“I’m very pleased for her and proud. She has been very committed and dedicated.

“I think it is credit to her that she is now on the pathway to achieving her goals.”

Sophie, from Harby, Newark, receives Shining Stars Funding from Notts County Counci.

Amazingly, she has overcome an allergy to horses to become a world-class and international dressage rider.

She competes in disabled events by virtue of being born with amniotic band syndrome — a condition that develops in the womb during pregnancy and results in problems with a child’s fingers and toes due to restricted blood flow.

Sophie lost some of her fingers but surgeons were able to save her feet, which has enabled her to launch a glittering career that has also earned her selection for representative teams in able-bodied versions of the sport.

From the age of 13, she has had a long-term ambition to compete at London 2012 and has risen to prominence in recent years with outstanding performances in the likes of the para-equestrian European Championships from where she returned with a hat-trick of golds.

Sophie will feature in Grade IV at the Paralympics, which is for the least disabled, and she will ride Dr Jackie Walker’s Pinocchio.

She said: “I am thrilled that I have been selected for the London 2012 Paralympics! I have been selected on Pinocchio with Valerius as my direct reserve.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support, and I will do my very best to do you proud! Very exciting!”

Sophie has been riding horses since the age of eight and has represented Britain since the age of 15. She begins her Paralympics competition on Friday August 31.

Sophie is among the athletes who are supporting Nottinghamshire County Council’s Fitter Twitter social media campaign with healthy living tweets being published to more than 5,000 Twitter followers on the council’s website in the run-up to the Games. Visit: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sportforall