The Australian Paralympic Committee officially announces the Para-Equestrian team for the 2012 Paralympic Games
Three first-timers will join Paralympian Grace Bowman in the Australian equestrian team announced today ahead of the London Paralympic Games beginning on August 29.
As the only athlete on the team to have previously competed at a Paralympic Games, Bowman will lead team-mates Hannah Dodd, Joann Formosa and Rob Oakley on the equestrian course at Greenwich Park.
Australia has won eight medals in equestrian at the Paralympic Games – two gold, one silver and five bronze, since it was introduced in Atlanta 1996. APC Chief Executive and 2012 Australian Team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig hopes the tally can continue to grow in London.
“In London, the equestrian events will be held at the historic Greenwich Park which is sure to provide a stunning backdrop for what will be the most hotly contested equestrian competition we’ve ever seen at a Paralympic Games,” Mr Hellwig said.
“There will be 78 equestrian athletes but just 11 medals on offer in London and our team of four will have to perform at their very best to secure a medal. It will be tough but I’m confident in this team’s ability to succeed.”
Bowman, who was paralysed as a 12-year-old from a horse riding accident, is hopeful that her London campaign will be more successful than Beijing, when her horse spooked under the Games atmosphere, leaving her in 12th position in the freestyle and 15th position in the individual championship events.
In a better reflection of her skills on the horse, she finished fourth in the individual championship at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and is hoping to turn a fourth place into a medal in London.
“After a fourth place at the World Championships, I’m hoping to not be fourth again and hopefully be in a medal position instead. A top five finish would be realistic for me but obviously to bring home a medal for Australia would be fantastic,” Bowman said.
Paralympic equestrian is open to athletes with a physical disability or vision impairment. Competition is divided into five grades based on an athlete’s level of function across individual championship, freestyle to music and team events.
The London Paralympic Games will take place from 29 August through to 9 September, 2012.
The 2012 Australian Paralympic Equestrian Team
Grace Bowman (Kirby Park Irish Joy) – Greenacres, SA
Hannah Dodd (Waikiwi) – Arcadia, NSW
Rob Oakley (Statford Mantovani) – Bungendore, NSW
Joann Formosa – Broadford, VIC (Worldwide PB)