The Paralympics starts on 24 August and with that in mind we have chosen Lee Pearson as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.
After discovering para-equestrian dressage whilst watching the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics on TV, Lee started riding and has gone on to win gold at every Paralympic Games since. He took the triple title (team, individual and freestyle) at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, 2004 Athens Paralympics and 2008 Beijing Paralympics, setting an equestrian world record by being unbeaten at three consecutive Paralympic Games.
In 2003, he became the first disabled person to have won a title at the British Dressage National Championships competing against non-disabled riders when he took the 2003 elementary restricted title.
Competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Lee came away with three medals, Team gold, Individual silver and bronze in the Grade Ib competition; 2015 saw him secure Team gold and two Individual silvers at the European Championships out in Deauville.
At Rio 2016, Lee’s career achievements were recognised when he was chosen to be the Paralympics GB flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony, leading the team into the Maracana at his fifth Games.
Once competition got under way, Lee swiftly claimed the 13th Paralympic dressage medal of his career with a silver in the individual competition, scoring an impressive 74.103 on his horse Zion. Lee’s fortunes changed in the individual freestyle test (Ib) where he went on to secure his eleventh Paralympic gold medal – his 14th of any colour.
Lee is a charity ambassador for the Donna Louise Hospice in Stoke and the Midlands Air Ambulance amongst others.
Awarded an MBE in 2001 and an OBE in 2005 in recognition of his monumental equestrian success and services to sport for the disabled; he then received a CBE in the 2009 New Year Honours List for services to equestrianism and disabled sport.
Lee’s achievements and contribution to equestrian sport was recognised when he was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours.
To find out more about Lee see here https://www.paralympic.org/lee-pearson
To find out more about the Paralympics see here