Inspirational Messages For LIfe

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Words For Motivation: Sophie Christiansen Rides High

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Sophie Christiansen At The Paralympic Victory Parade In London 2012

 
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are now a memory but it would be a pity if we lost the inspiration messages the events of last summer gave us.

As we all know, there are many challenges to be faced in life and we all need words for motivation to overcome them. Many would find a major disability too much however. In November 1987, a baby daughter was born two month premature and was found to have cerebral palsy, jaundice, blood poisoning, and a collapsed lung. If that was not enough, the new baby then had a heart attack.

Despite all these challenges, the baby grew and her parents sent her to a normal school with a special unit attached where she was encouraged to enjoy sport, playing football and hockey at break times. Nonetheless she was shy and suffered some bullying. At the age of six, Sophie Christiansen began riding near her home in Berkshire and then with South Buckinghamshire branch of the charity Riding for the Disabled as a form of physiotherapy. She had at last found a sport she could compete in and was hooked.

In 2004, the 16 year old Sophie competed at the Paralympic Games in Athens and provided us all with inspiration messages by winning a bronze medal in the Grade 1 (severe disabilities) dressage behind fellow Britain Lee Pearson, who won the gold medal. Writing on the HorseHero.com website, Sophie explains how things changed: “I learnt the importance of teamwork, became more confident and less self-conscious due to the amount of interviews I had to do, and generally grew up. Athens did more than years of speech therapy for my confidence in communication. ”

Sophie continued by winning three gold medals in the 2005 World Championships in Hungary and a gold and a bronze in the 2007 World Championships.

The 2008 Paralympic Games were held in Beijing of course but the equestrian events took place in Hong Kong where Sophie won a gold medal in the individual freestyle dressage event and silver in the championship dressage. As if this was not enough, she then won gold in the team event.

In recognition of the words of motivation she gives to other people, Sophie Christiansen was named the BBC London Disabled Athlete of the Year in 2004 and was given an MBE in 2009 in addition to other awards.

The medals continued to come throughout 2009 and 2010 before she faced her home crowd at the London 2012 Paralympics. What great inspiration messages she gave us there. Sophie won three gold medals in the Individual, Freestyle and Team events, racking up a personal and Paralympic record score in the Freestyle event and winning the hearts of millions.

At no stage does Sophie allow her disability to get in her way. At times she has competed in wheelchair half marathons, winning the Windsor event in 2002. She refuses to be wheelchair bound but does use an electric scooter to travel longer distances. Away from sport, Sophie gained a Masters degree in Mathematics from Royal Holloway University early last year and worked part-time as a statistician.

In the 2013 New Years honours list, Sophie Christiansen was awarded an OBE and is coming to terms with her newfound status as a celebrity. Her career away from sport is on hold while she adapts to her new life: “Having had the success I’m determined to live with it.”

Sophie ensures she puts something back too: she has already been giving talks and words of motivation to schools, campaigns to have those with disabilities accepted and is supporting charities such as BLISS, who work for babies needing extra care.

Sophie Christiansen has a bubbly sense of humour but is also careful that her experiences send out words of motivation to others. “I hope the Paralympics will educate people in disability and also inspire them to go out and achieve their dream, no matter how difficult it is.”
 


 
 

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