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June 2008 Off the Wire . . .




Para Dressage Rider Confirmed For Beijing, MS Society UK

Main Category: Multiple Sclerosis
Article Date: 23 Jun 2008

The British Equestrian Federation has announced that Simon Laurens, one of the UK's top Para Dressage riders, has been chosen to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.

Simon, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), was one of 17 eligible to represent Great Britain at the event and follows an exceptional year in which Simon achieved selection qualification by completing four competitions with a mark of more than 70%.

He said: "I'm ecstatic and have to keep pinching myself to make sure it is real, it makes the last two years all worthwhile."

For Simon, being shortlisted for the 2008 Paralympics was an achievement that just three years ago he would never have thought possible. In 2004, Simon received a diagnosis of MS and his initial reaction was to quit.

"I'm a perfectionist, if I can't do something properly, I don't want to do it."

Following his diagnosis with MS, it was the encouragement of friends and one very special horse - Ocean Dream - that persuaded Simon to continue to compete.

Born in Jersey, Simon now lives in the Cotswolds. His MS means that he has problems with his core stability and balance. Frequent muscle spasms, particularly in his legs, mean he needs a horse with a suitable temperament.

Now one of the country's top Para dressage riders, Simon is determined to bring back a gold medal from Beijing this year.

Going to the Paralympics sees his greatest challenge yet. A visit to Hong Kong in September 2007 for the Test Event to check how he would cope with the change of climate went well and he is intent on medal success. Following Beijing, Simon has the London Paralympics 2012 in his sights.

The MS Society would like to congratulate Simon on his place in the games and wish him the best of luck.

MS Society

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