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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June 2005, 23:16 GMT 00:16 UK
Golden girl Funnell secures MBE
By Scarlett Elworthy

FUNNELL FACTS
Pippa Funnell
Born: Crowborough, East Sussex, 7.10.68
Lives: Forest Green, Surrey
Trainer: Ruth McMullen
Major honours: Olympics - individual bronze, team silver (Athens 2004), team silver (Sydney 2000); European Championships: individual bronze and team gold (Punchestown 2003) individual and team gold (Pau 2001), individual and team gold (Luhmuhlen, 1999); World Equestrian Games - team bronze (Jerez 2002); Kentucky winner - 2003; Badminton winner 2005, 2003, 2002; Burghley winner - 2003

Pippa Funnell has grafted so long and so hard to become Britain's leading event rider of the modern era that many would say an MBE is the least she deserves.

After winning the European Young Rider crown in 1987, Funnell initially enjoyed only limited success at senior level.

It was not until 1999 - after a spell of working with sports psychologist Nikki Heath - that the Sussex-born equestrian star finally made the breakthrough at the top of her chosen sport.

A sixth-place finish at Badminton that year, followed by individual and team gold at the European Championships - all with Supreme Rock - opened the floodgates to elite honours.

Since then, the 36-year-old has gone on to establish herself as a lynchpin of the Great Britain eventing team.

Funnell helped her country claim Olympic silvers in Athens in 2004 and Sydney in 2000 as well as three European golds between 1999 and 2003.

She has also earned a plethora of individual medals at the highest level, including Olympic bronze in Greece last summer and a hat-trick of European golds.

The Dorking-based star has also won Badminton three times - her most recent triumph coming in April.

She has also re-written many of eventing's records.

Most notably she became the first to win eventing's Grand Slam when she triumphed at Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley in 2003.

Pippa has been an outstanding ambassador for the sport of eventing for many years
Peter Durrant

The achievement saw Funnell make the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist that Christmas.

And as a measure of just how incredible the feat was, many of Funnell's peers believe the slam will never be done again.

But despite the impressive trophy haul, Funnell remains self-effacing and is renown for putting her horse's welfare above winning.

In a sport of such real and present danger, it is perhaps those characteristics - rather than the silverware - that has won Funnell so many friends and admirers.

Peter Durrant, British Eventing's chief executive, said: "Pippa has been an outstanding ambassador for the sport of eventing for many years, as well as an inspiration to people of all ages.

"This MBE is very fitting recognition for her unique sporting achievements both at home and abroad and we are all delighted and thrilled for her."





Links to more Equestrian stories


 

SEE ALSO
D'Oliveira heads Queen's honours
10 Jun 05 |  Sport Homepage
Funnell clinches Badminton title
08 May 05 |  Equestrian


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