PARALYMPICS: Medal is ‘there for the taking’

Para horse rider Bert Sheffield, who is heading off to Rio next month. Photo by Rich Neale
Para horse rider Bert Sheffield, who is heading off to Rio next month. Photo by Rich Neale
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Olympic fever is gripping the nation and in less than a month Bourne para horse rider Bert Sheffield will be joining the Rio carnival – where a medal is hers for the taking.

Things are progressing well for the 35-year-old and her horse Double Agent – Darcy for short – who have been 
selected to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games in September in the dressage grade three discipline.

“It’s all good at the moment,” said Bert who has rheumatoid arthritis.

“We’re heading out there the first week in September, Darcy has just done her last big show before we go, which was good.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It will be interesting, though – we went to the World Equestrian Games for Canada, but this is going to be very different as it will be the complete sporting family.”

Bert developed RA when she was just 15 and the condition has progressed through her limb joints, neck, shoulders and jaw.

It will be interesting, though – we went to the World Equestrian Games for Canada, but this is going to be very different as it will be the complete sporting family.

Bert Sheffield

She initially represented Great Britain but found her age was a stumbling block when it came to selection so switched to riding for Canada as she has dual nationality.

She won the British Dressage Para National Championship in 2014, the same year she finished fourth in the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

“Things are progressing nicely,” she added.

“It’s a slightly interesting situation that the British have not put forward a grade three competitor and neither have the Dutch – who are probably the strongest grade three in the world.

“It’s probably the most wide open grade, both in terms of disability within the grade and just generally as there’s not a clear favourite, and German rider Hannelore Brenner is not taking her horse which she’s previously won gold on, so it’s going to be really interesting.

“It really is there for the taking this time.”

Bert is giving a demonstration of the freestyle programme she will perform in Rio at Four Winds Equestrian Centre, West Pinchbeck, on Thursday (7pm), following the display with a question and answer session about her preparations. The charge is £4 for members and £5 for the public.