In case you missed it, or haven’t seen the results on social media/the news yet, last night was the results of the Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award and this year really was a fantastic result for Equestrian Sport.
Of the 16 finalists for the award, there were 2 Equestrians, Nick Skelton and Sophie Christiansen. This is itself is a fantastic achievement for equestrian sport. With the other 14 finalists coming from mainstream, very popular, very British, sports such as; football, athletics, cycling and tennis.
Nick Skelton has had a fantastic year winning individual gold at Rio in the Show Jumping with his charismatic stallion Big Star. This performance was not only great for the results, but for those of you with a good knowledge of show jumping will appreciate the style in which he won! Nick is the second oldest person to ever win an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain and the public really got behind him coming back to the sport after breaking his neck 16 years ago.
Sophie Christiansen has also had a truly amazing year, not finishing lower than 2nd in any FEI competition in Para-Dressage and winning 3 gold medals at Rio, repeating her 3 golds from London 2012! She competes in grade 1a due to her cerebral palsy but has not let this stop her and is a real inspiration to both the equestrian and wider world.
Although an Equestrian didn’t win, Nick got a fantastic 3rd and Sophie a brilliant 5th. These results are amazing! I have seen a lot of people moaning about the results, thinking that an equestrian should have won the award. But these people need to remember that Equestrian sports are not that popular in the general public. Many people struggle to consider dressage in particular a sport and believe that horses do all the work in all equestrian disciplines, making the riders almost redundant and not worthy of sporting recognition.
So the fact that we had 2 finalists in the top 5 is truly outstanding! A large proportion of the public has recognised equestrian as a sport and the huge amount of work that the riders put in to ensure that both them and their horses are performing at their very best. This is a huge deal for the equine world and I hope equestrian sport continues to be recognised by the British public.