The equestrian sports for debut and experienced athletes with disabilities is getting ready to stage at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
78 Para Equestrian athletes from 27 nations have confirmed their attendance to the Paralympic Games. Amongst them, 60 year-old Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR) is the only athlete who has competed in para dressage at every Paralympics edition since Atlanta 1996.
What is Para dressage? It’s the sport of dressage for riders with a physical impairment. Riders compete against others with the same grade, meaning they are allocated through a classification process according to their disability.
This is the sole equestrian discipline that is contested at the Paralympic Games.
Jens Lasse Dokkan is currently ranked World No. 5 in the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Ranking for Grade I. He will be attending Tokyo with his mount Aladdin.
Also, current World Champion and European Champion, Sanne Voets (NED) has also set her sights for the Tokyo podium. The 34-year-old rider aims to win the team, individual and freestyle competitions in Tokyo for a triple-triple of golds at European, World and Paralympic. This feat was last achieved by Sir Lee Pearson.
Voets will be arriving in Tokyo with her horse Demantur, also known as Demmi. Sir Lee Pearson himself is also looking to add more medals to his 14 Paralympic medal collection. This includes 11 golds: the highest for any Paralympic Equestrian. He made his debut at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney.
Here, Sir Lee Pearson won the triplet individual, freestyle and team Olympic gold. He then won another three golds in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 before winning team gold, individual silver and the freestyle bronze medal in London 2012. In Rio 2016 he won the freestyle test gold medal and an individual silver.
The USA team is led by Roxanne Trunnell, currently the highest ranked equestrian paralympic athlete in Grade I and in the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Ranking. She has won every outing in 2021 together with her horse Dolton. Trunnell will be joined by Rebecca Hart, Beatrice De Lavalette and Kate Shoemaker.
Also, the Netherlands is a strong team as they are current World and European championship winners. They want to make a hat trick at the Paralympics, and teams include European champion Frank Hosmar, Rixt van der Horst and Sanne Voets.
Great Britain, the unrivalled winners at the equestrian Paralympics will reunite Lee Pearson, Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells in Tokyo to defend their title.
Currently ranked No. 1 in Grade III, Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN) was the winner of the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championship in Rotterdam (NED). He won gold medals in individual and freestyle tests with his horse Joelene Hill. Also, he won the team bronze at this competition. Now, he will debut in the Olympic Games following his mother’s steps.
Belgium’s Kevin Van Ham is also debuting at the Paralympics. He had an incredible appearance at the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championship, placing fifth in individual and freestyle competitions. Currently he is ranked World No. 7 in Grade V.