Pearson completes full set

GB dressage rider adds freestyle bronze to earlier silver and gold medals

Last Updated: 03/09/12 8:20pm

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(Left to right) Katja Karjalainen, Pepo Puch and Lee Pearson

(Left to right) Katja Karjalainen, Pepo Puch and Lee Pearson

Lee Pearson was thwarted in his attempt to win a record-equalling 11th Paralympic gold medal but said bronze was the best he could have hoped for on the day.

The 38-year-old came third in the freestyle dressage, taking his tally at the London Paralympics to a gold, silver and bronze.

He was beaten by the Grade Ib freestyle winner, Austrian Pepo Puch, while Finland's Katja Karjalainen won silver.

The bronze looks set to bring Pearson's trusted and successful long-term partnership with gelding Gentleman to an end. Bathed in bright sunshine at Greenwich Park, south-east London, they pleased the crowd with a routine to a James Bond soundtrack.

Going into London 2012 Pearson, who was born with arthrogryposis, boasted an undefeated golden hat-trick from the past three Games. He controls his horse using his hips and has to use crutches or a wheelchair to get about.

He said: "He (Gentleman) has struggled this week physically. It is quite unusual for him to compete on every other day over six days.

"The guys back stage have been working on keeping him sane and sound.

"I do not think he could have offered any more in the arena and to be honest, I do not think I could have ridden any better.

"Bronze was the maximum I could have got. I do not really think that I could have done anything different today to get a silver or a gold.

"Besides I have got OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), so I think that one of each colour will be really nice above the fireplace."

Patriotic

London 2012 is Pearson's second Paralympics riding with Gentleman.

He competed in Athens 2004 on Blue Circle Boy and on Chif Chafe Meknef at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.

Pearson, who breeds horses at home in Staffordshire, loved playing up to the crowd and being "a people person".

He said the quest for gold medals - 11 would have tied him with wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and swimmer David Roberts as Britain's greatest gold medal winning Paralympian - is not his motivation.

"There is media interest in that but it is not why I do it," he said.

He smiled at the music he chose for the routine, which was a clear crowd pleaser.

He said: "It was just James Bond so when I went to the Olympic opening ceremony and saw the Queen fly in I thought, 'this is going to be good'. Mine was a bit patriotic and British.

"I heard the little giggles and whooah as he started. I am glad that people appreciated it."

Pearson, who is aiming to go to the 2016 Rio Paralympics, said: "I am going to kick butt in the future.

"We have the Europeans, the Worlds and then the Paralympics ... I am going to go out there to win."

Pearson has also won silver in the individual championship and team gold at the London 2012 Paralympics.

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