Britain's most successful Paralympic rider Lee Pearson misses out on gold again


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The Independent Online

The sun shone brightly overhead and Lee Pearson came out to a soundtrack inspired by the James Bond film Goldeneye. But for the second time in a week at Greenwich Park Britain's most successful Paralympic rider failed to turn his medal hopes the same colour.

Reputation can be a curse. At the last three Olympic games Pearson has come back with a triplet of golds every time. While he always insisted he never cared what colour medals he won at London 2012 gold was inevitably on his mind. Today's individual freestyle event was the last chance the 38-year-old had to equal Tani Grey-Thompson and Dave Roberts' eleven gold medals. But he will now have to wait for Rio.

In the end he took a more than respectable bronze, with Finland's Katja Karjalainen taking silver and Austria's Pepo Puch seizing the top spot with a stunning performance on his horse Fine Feeling.

For a while it seemed like Pearson had done enough to secure first place. As he rode out into Greenwich Park the audience were reminded not to applaud until he had finished his dressage in case the horse spooked. The tension was unbearable. The crowd desperately wanted to cheer him on but had to wait. Pearson's choice of music - a cheeky medley of James Bond themes beginning with Goldeneye – was as colourful as he is. Under glorious blue skies his huge horse Gentleman pranced, trotted and jogged around the arena and even began swishing his tail in time to the music.

With twelve riders down his score of 74.200% was enough to storm into the lead. But within minutes Austria's Puch – a former Olympian rider who turned Paralympian after a riding accident – produced an unbeatable performance with 79.150%. Finland's Karjalainen delivered the final nail in the coffin beating Pearson's score by just 0.050%.