Wicklow Para Dressage rider Helen Kearney will be Ireland’s sole equestrian athlete for the 2016 Paralympic Games, where she will ride the stallion Rock and Roll 2. The Games will take place in Rio from September 7th to 18th.

Helen Kearney won three medals at the London 2012 Paralympics, individual silver and bronze along with helping the Irish team secure team bronze.

Paralympics, London 2012
Helen Kearney at the 2012 London Paralympics

Para-Equestrian athletes from 29 nations are preparing to compete on the world’s biggest stage in a bid for the most coveted medals in the sport.

The unbeaten British team will be seeking to retain their Team gold once again, and both the nations’ reigning Paralympic Champions return to Rio – Britain’s Sophie Christiansen, individual and Freestyle Grade 1a, and fellow-Briton Natasha Baker, individual and Freestyle Grade II – bidding to retain their individual crowns.

Also returning are Belgium’s Michèle George, individual and Freestyle Grade IV champion and Austria’s Pepo Puch, Freestyle Grade 1b champion. Absent from this year’s entries are both Australia’s Joann Formosa, winner of individual Grade 1b and Germany’s Hannelore Brenner, individual and Freestyle Grade III winner, who sadly withdrew only a few days ago due to an injury to her horse.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will see Para-Equestrian sport celebrate 20 years in the Paralympic movement, with 14 countries fielding teams and a further 15 nations lining out with individuals at the Deodoro Equestrian Centre when Para-Equestrian Dressage gets underway on Sunday 11 September.

“It is really exciting to see so many nations once again competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “and the list of definite entries includes some great names out to retain their titles, as well as many new riders making their Paralympic debuts. We’re also very proud to welcome Uruguay to the family as they field a Para-Equestrian athlete for the first time.”

Jack Burns