Equestrianism: Sophie Wells pipped at the last but GB extend unbeaten run

 

Sophie Wells won Britain's third equestrian medal of the Paralympics at Greenwich Park yesterday but the 22-year-old could not emulate her fellow Games debutant Natasha Baker, who landed the Grade II individual title on Saturday, in taking gold. Wells, from Newark, had to settle for Grade IV silver behind Belgium's Michele George, reversing the result at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

Wells, who was born with amniotic band syndrome that affects her joints, is such an outstanding dressage talent that she has also competed at non-disabled international level. But a mistake midway through her test yesterday on Pinocchio cost her dear as their score of 76.323 per cent fell short of George's 77.065 per cent aboard Rainman; Dutch rider Frank Hosmar took bronze.

Wells' display, though, tightened the British grip on team gold – which was confirmed later by 46-year-old Deborah Criddle's silver medal in the Grade III class on LJT Akilles.

The team of Criddle, Wells, Lee Pearson and Sophie Christiansen preserved GB's unbeaten Paralympic record, which began in Atlanta 16 years ago. Taunton-based Criddle, a triple Paralympic gold medallist in Athens eight years ago, set the standard with a score of 71.267 per cent, which was not overhauled until defending Paralympic champion Hannelore Brenner of Germany posted 74.133 per cent with Women of the World.

Despite the team success, Wells, who will be a leading contender in tomorrow's freestyle-to-music class, was disappointed to lose out on individual gold.

"If I hadn't had the mistake it might have been a different story," she said. "I knew I would have to do the best test I had ever done, but the Paralympics is when everyone is at their best."

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