Lee Pearson storms to his 12th Paralympic equestrian gold

Lee Pearson insists he’s just a horse rider from Stoke but there’s no disputing his status as a British sporting icon after winning a 12th Paralympic gold. 

The 47-year-old, appearing at his sixth Paralympics in Tokyo, wept after he steered his horse Breezer to a sensational dressage routine – and who can blame him.  

This is his first Games on board a horse he’s raised since the day it was born, his first as a Sir and his first as a dad after fostering a 15-year-old boy during the first Coronavirus lockdown.  

Much has changed since Pearson won his first gold in Sydney 21 years ago, or indeed when he was born and his mum, Lynda, said ‘oh s**t’ when she saw he had the severely twisted limbs of arthrogryposis multiplex congenita.  

So, it’s no wonder he’s just sitting back and literally enjoying the ride.

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“I never, never believed my life would be anywhere,” the 47-year-old said.  

“I never believed my life would be where it was up to Sydney and afterwards. I always use this word and I’m sorry I can’t think of another one but it’s surreal.   

“I never take anything for granted. I never take today for granted, I never take tomorrow for granted. It’s just literally living for today.  

“I am very, very emotional, I cried in the arena. It has been a long journey, he is a home-bred horse and I am a dad now – I have never had to keep anyone else alive apart from myself.  

“I have lots of emotions, my family aren’t out here to be with me and to do it on a home-bred horse is amazing.”   

Pearson could still add two more golds to his individual test grade II success and, on this form, few would bet against him reaching 14 Paralympic titles. Sarah Storey, who is chasing No.17 in Tokyo to become Britain’s greatest Paralympian, better watch out.  

Pearson and Breezer – so named because his sire was called Bacardi – did it with aplomb, a routine full of vim and vigour, flair and finesse, poise and panache.  

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He is the patriarch of ParalympicsGB but his legacy extends far beyond the equestrian park. He is the first openly gay man on the British team, and winning in the only G7 country that does not legally recognise same-sex partnerships was not lost on him.  

“I’m the most abnormal normal person,” he said.   

“I’m very normal and if that comes across that ok it’s not frightening, it shouldn’t be hidden in dark nightclubs and once the country and government accept it you’ll be going to gay pride and you’ll be enjoying it more than the gay people will.   

“Love has to prevail really, I think. Whatever shape or form, I think love has to prevail.”  

Sainsbury’s is a proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers to eat better has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/ and https://paralympics.org.uk/

Hillingdon Times | News