Wells to lead British para-dressage team at European Championships
Double Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Wells is looking for that winning feeling once again as she prepares for the European Para Dressage Championships.
Wells was part of the British team that took home gold in 2009 and 2013, and is hoping to replicate that success at the competition taking place in Gothenburg, next week.
The championships are being held alongside the European Showjumping and Dressage Championships and Wells is delighted at the exposure it could bring to the para event.
“Each competition is special, you always have a different journey but it’s nice to have one of my young horses coming through and getting the opportunity to see what he can do,” she said.
“It will be like any other championship but I’m out there to do the best I can and show off his abilities, it’s great that we’re back to being alongside showjumping and dressage championships - it makes it that little bit more special and gives more exposure to the sport.
“In the last European Championships we were on our own so it gives it that little bit more buzz about it as well as being among other sportspeople in the discipline.” Sophie Wells
Wells took home silver in the individual event in 2013 and heads an inexperienced team in Sweden, including debutant Julie Payne.
But the 27-year-old is not fazed by being the most experienced in the camp and will be happy to share any words of wisdom with her team-mates.
She said: “A silver medal was a brilliant result but of course you’re always striving to achieve better and I will go out and show him off to the best of my abilities.
“It’s scary that I’m the most experienced at 27, I don’t feel that I’m going out as the most experienced but of course if people want advice I’m happy to give it, we’ve all been through our first championships. It’s a great opportunity for people to show themselves.
“We are going into it with a new team and with a bit of doubt from other nations about how strong the team is, but if people can pull off the best performances when it matters then we are going in as strong as we can.”
Payne, who is making her first appearance at a major competition, revealed she will be drawing on the experience of Wells as inspiration.
She said: “She is one who can give us all confidence and support, she’s been there and done it.
“I’m incredibly excited, it’s a dream come true. It’s fantastic, to compete for your country, I’m absolutely speechless, everyone wants to do that." Julie Payne
“I’m hoping to do my best and soak up the atmosphere. I’ve worked towards this event all my life.”
Full Great Britain team:
Erin Orford (Dior)
Suzanna Hext (Abira)
Julie Payne (Athene Lindebjerg)
Sophie Wells (C Fatal Attraction)