Equestrian Life
Anne Dunham: From the birth of Paralympic Equestrian to Rio 2016

Anne Dunham (GBR) & LJT Lucas Normark in Rio - Photo FEI

Anne Dunham (GBR) & LJT Lucas Normark in Rio.



By Equestrian Life

At 67, Anne Dunham is the oldest athlete at the Rio Paralympics.

However, this is not the only remarkable fact about Anne.

The incredibly successful rider is competing at her fifth Paralympic Games in Rio, a feat made all the more amazing considering she debuted at age 47.

Anne’s first Paralympic appearance was in Atlanta, 1996 - the first year dressage was included as part of the Games. Things were a little different 20 years ago than they are now; in Atlanta, riders were required to compete on horses supplied by the host nation.

Competitors drew names from a hat, so they had no idea of their chances at the Games until they had sat on their assigned horse. Remarkably, the riders had only an hour a day over five days to get use to their new partner.

Para-dressage riders continued to compete on borrowed horses in Sydney (2000), before they were allowed to compete on their own horses at the Athens Paralympic Games in 2004.

While Dunham has always loved horses, it took a long time for her to realise her dream of competing. As a teenager, she worked as a stablehand and managed a yard of 80 horses on weekends. At 27, she was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis and at 30 she began using a wheelchair. In 2011, it was discovered that she was actually suffering from Dystonia, a neurological condition that causes uncontrollable muscle spasms.

It wasn’t until her husband sold his business that she was able to buy her own horse and begin competing at age 40. Seven years later, she made her Paralympic debut.

Her Paralympic record is nothing short of impressive:

Atlanta 1996 - Team Gold, Kur Trot Grade II Bronze
Sydney 2000 - Team Gold
Athens 2004 - Team Gold
Beijing 2008 - Team Gold, Individual Championship test Grade Ia Gold and Freestyle test Grade Ia Silver

In Rio, Anne is competing on the striking 15-year-old Knabstrupper stallion by Ravaldi, Lucas Normark. They have had a successful Games so far, scoring 73.957% in the Grade Ia Team Test - a score that earned them second place.
Anne is in action again tonight (AEST) in the Individual Championship test, Grade Ia - a test that will determine her individual placing overall and hopefully earn her a start in the Freestyle.


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© copyright. Equestrian Life. Saturday, 22 February 2020