Lis Hartel

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Lis Hartel
Personal information
Full name Lis Hartel
Born (1921-03-14)March 14, 1921
Died February 12, 2009(2009-02-12) (aged 87)
Country  Denmark
Event(s) equestrian
Olympic medal record
Competitor for  Denmark
Silver 1952 Helsinki Individual Dressage
Silver 1956 Stockholm Individual Dressage

Lis Hartel (14 March 1921 – 12 February 2009) was a Danish equestrian athlete. Hartel became the first woman in the equestrian sports to win an Olympic medal when she won silver medals at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics in dressage. She accomplished this feat despite being paralysed below the knees as a result of polio and required assistance on and off her horse. She has had a large impact on horsemanship in Denmark. She also was given a lot of credit for starting the movement for therapeutic riding schools, in fact one in the Netherlands is named the Lis Hartel in honor of her.

Hartel died on February 12, 2009. She was 87.[1]


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Lis Hartel, was equestrian who won two Olympic silver medals for Denmark in the 1950s, despite being paralyzed below the knees because of polio when she was 23. Lis Hartel’s equestrian career was one of true heroism... After she was diagnosed, she painstakingly regained use of most of her muscles, although she remained paralyzed below the knees. Her arms and hands also were affected. Against medical advice, this amazing, determined, young woman doggedly continued to do what she loved-ride horses, although she needed help to get on and off her beloved horse, Jubilee. At her time, it was unusual for a woman to be an Olympic equestrian, unheard of for a paralyzed woman, whom the doctors never thought would walk again.