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Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 15:29 UK

Athens medallists bid for glory

Paralympics GB

Athens gold medallists Lee Pearson, Deborah Criddle and Anne Dunham have been named in Britain's Para-equestrian dressage team for the Beijing Games.

Pearson and Criddle, who will be appearing in their third Games, both won two individual titles and a team gold four years ago.

Dunham, who will be appearing in her fourth Games, also won team gold.

Sophie Christiansen, Ricky Balshaw, Simon Laurens and Felicity Coulthard make up the remainder of the team.

Christiansen made her Paralympic debut in Athens, winning bronze in the individual dressage but Balshaw, Laurens and Coulthard will be making their Paralympic debuts at the events which will take place at the Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong.

Great Britain's Para-equestrian dressage team came away with 13 medals, including six golds, to finish as the top nation at last year's World Championships in Gloucester.

Wiltshire-based Dunham, 59, has already won gold medals in previous games in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

She told BBC Radio Wiltshire being one of the oldest competitors will help her in Hong Kong.

"Age is an advantage in equestrianism because you've got the experience. It helps with the technicalities and quietness you need for dressage."

Laurens, from Jersey, but now based in Gloucestershire, said: "I'm absolutely ecstatic and can't quite believe it. Since my first Prelim competition two years ago to the World Championships last summer it's been an absolute whirlwind but this is the ultimate.

"I always hoped that Ocean Diamond would be destined for Hong Kong, he's such a great little horse and really deserves to go."

Pearson will be hoping to maintain his impressive Paralympic record of six gold medals on his new horse Gentleman who he has been working with since late last year.

"You can never take selection as a given and I am stunned and delighted to be nominated to go to my third Paralympics," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to it. Gentleman is a young horse but he has been brilliant over the selection trials. The hard work really starts now though and I want to wrap him up in cotton wool."

GB riders and horses:
Grade Ia: Sophie Christiansen (Lambrusco III), Anne Dunham (Teddy) Grade Ib: Ricky Balshaw (Deacon's Giorgi), Lee Pearson (Gentleman) Grade II: Felicity Coulthard (Roffelaar)
Grade III: Deborah Criddle (Pavaroti), Simon Laurens (Ocean Diamond)

see also
Disability sport on the BBC
23 Apr 08 |  Disability sport
Pearson leads GB to world glory
22 Jul 07 |  Disability sport

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