We’re delighted to report that Bader Grant Recipient, para-dressage rider, Mari Akhurst, has had her hard work and phenomenal achievements with both her horses, Sky O’Hara (on loan from Glesni Owen) and her own Bear, rewarded. Mari just found out that she has been selected for a place on the competitive Excel Talent Programme. This is wonderful news and hugely important for Mari as it represents a stepping stone towards the World Class Programme. You can find out more about the Programme and what it will mean to Mari by following the link below.
To add to a great month for Mari, she has also been recognised by SportsAid Bucks. This Club provides a way for local individuals, businesses and trusts to raise money to help with training, travel or equipment costs for young, talented athletes in Buckinghamshire. Mari, the first Para Dressage rider to be rewarded in this way, was presented with a cheque for £1,000 at the SportsAid Bucks Sporting Lunch Club on Friday 20th October. Please see the link below for more information.
Mari has Cerebral Palsy, hyper mobility and lax ligaments. Her CP affects all four limbs and has left her weaker down her left side than her right. As a result, her coordination, balance and muscle tone are all affected. She received a Lady Bader Grant towards fitness training to improve her core strength, which helps with balance and control, so important for dressage riding, and has to carry out her intense fitness regime 6 times a week with a determination that has earned the respect of her trainer amongst others!
I believe that Mari and her new horse have the ability and determination to reach the highest level in her sport Linsay Coleridge Smith – Trainer
To compete for Team GB in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is Mari’s goal and, having qualified both horses for the Winter Championships, with Sky and Bear coming 1st and 2nd respectively overall – a brilliant double – she is well on the way to achieving her dream.
We couldn’t be happier for this truly gutsy and inspirational young rider and are so proud to have been able to play a small part in her very exciting journey.
Useful links: (all links will open in new tabs)
- The Excel Talent Programme
- Mari awarded by SportsAid Bucks
- Mari’s Blog Page where you will find more hugely readable information about what’s involved in following her ambition to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
- Get Mari to the 2020 Paralympics – Mari’s fundraising page. Keeping horses and training them to Olympics standard is a hugely expensive business. Due to deterioration in her disability Mari is currently unable to work and is seeking financial sponsorship or funding of any kind. She would be extremely grateful for any help, however small.
- Mari’s Facebook Page Where you will find all kinds of interesting information, updates, photographs and videos of Mari, Sky and Bear