Sophie Christiansen

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Sophie Christiansen
Sophie Christiansen - Victory Parade.jpg
Personal information
Birth name Sophie Margaret Christiansen
Born (1987-11-14) 14 November 1987 (age 27)
Ascot, Berkshire, England
Country  United Kingdom
Sport Equestrian
Achievements and titles
Paralympic finals 2004, 2008, 2012

Sophie Margaret Christiansen, OBE (born 14 November 1987) is an English equestrian who has competed in three successive Paralympic Games,[1][2] winning several medals.

Christiansen was born two months prematurely with cerebral palsy and suffered from other health problems including jaundice, blood poisoning, a heart attack and a collapsed lung.[3] At the age of six she began horse riding as a form of physiotherapy at her local Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) group. She was educated at Charters School in Sunningdale, and left in 2006 to study for a master's degree in mathematics at Royal Holloway, University of London.[4]

She first competed at the Paralympics aged 16 and was the youngest athlete for Great Britain at the 2004 Summer Paralympics.[2] She contested both the freestyle and championship dressage grade I, the classification grade for severely disabled athletes.[5][6] In the freestyle event Christiansen finished fourth with the gold medal being won by British teammate Lee Pearson.[7] The championship grade I dressage saw Christiansen win her first Paralympic medal. Competing with her horse Hotstuff, she took bronze with gold again being won by Pearson.[8][9] She was named BBC London Disabled Athlete of the Year for 2004.[10]

Following her success in Athens Christiansen was selected to be part of the British team at the 2005 European Championships held in Hungary where she won three gold medals.[11][12] At the World Championships in 2007 she won a gold medal in the freestyle dressage and a bronze medal in the individual dressage event.[13]

In 2008 she represented Great Britain at the Summer Paralympics. The equestrian events were not held in the host city Beijing but instead took place at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Hong Kong. Competing in her second Games she again contested the freestyle and championship dressage events but was also part of the British quartet in the team dressage.[5] On her horse Lambrusco she won an individual gold medal in the freestyle and silver in the championship dressage.[14][15] In the team open Christiansen, with teammates Lee Pearson, Anne Dunham and Simon Laurens won her second Paralympic gold medal. This meant that Great Britain has won a gold medal in this event at four consecutive Games.[16]

Christiansen was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours for services to disabled sport.[17][18] She has a MSci degree (undergraduate honours) in mathematics from the University of London's Royal Holloway College.[19]

Paralympics 2012 saw her claim gold once again as BBC reports: "Sophie Christiansen – Equestrian – Individual Freestyle Test Grade la. How she did it: Sophie won gold with a score of 84.75 on her horse Janeiro 6 finishing 5.75 points ahead of her closest rival." [20] In honour of her achievements at the London 2012 games the Royal Mail have painted a postbox gold in her original hometown of Sunningdale.[21] She is Britain's first triple gold medallist at the Paralympic games.[22]

She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to equestrianism.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sophie Christiansen MBE". Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Paralympic challengers: Sophie Christiansen". BBC Sport. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Honeyball, Lee (4 August 2002). "Sophie Christiansen, Paralympic dressage". The Observer. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Charters School Alumni". Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Sophie Christiansen's profile on
  6. ^ "Sports Classification". British Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "More glory for dressage duo". BBC Sport. 23 September 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Team GB collect six golds". BBC Sport. 21 September 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Golden repeat for Pearson". 22 September 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Christiansen rides to further glory". Bracknell Forest Standard. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "GB dressage team shine at Euros". BBC Sport. 1 August 2005. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Great Britain Supreme at IPC Equestrian European Championships". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Pearson leads GB to world glory". BBC Sport. 22 July 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  14. ^ Davies, Gareth A (10 September 2008). "Paralympics: Great Britain vie with China". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "GB collect three equestrian golds". BBC Sport. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  16. ^ "Dunham claims record fourth gold". BBC Sport. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929. p. 16. 31 December 2008.
  18. ^ Pyle, Mike (31 December 2008). "Paralympian says MBE was a 'big surprise'". Bracknell Forest Standard. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  19. ^ Royal Holloway notable alumni
  20. ^ "ParalympicsGB's London 2012 medal roll of honour". BBC Sport. September 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  21. ^ "Postbox painted gold to celebrate Paralympian Sophie Christiansen". Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "Triple gold medallist Sophie.". Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  23. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 24. 29 December 2012.
  24. ^ "2013 New Year's Honours" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2012.