New Years Honours: MBE caps ‘amazing year’ for London dressage rider
PUBLISHED: 03:15 29 December 2012 | UPDATED: 09:55 29 December 2012
Paralympic double gold medallist Natasha Baker cried when she learned she had been nominated in the 2013 New Years Honours list.
But they were tears of joy for the para-equestrian rider from Uxbridge, who was made an MBE for her services to the sport following a successful London 2012.
Natasha, 22, who contracted the transverse myelitis neurological disorder when she was a baby, traces her connection to the sport back to 2000 when she watched paralympic dressage at the Sydney Games.
She said: “It’s such an massive honour, it really has topped off an amazing year.
“My dream was formed in 2000 and its been a long 12 years but well worth it now I have got these two (gold medals) hanging around my neck.”
The former Brunel University student thanked all those who watched her achieve three personal bests and break two Paralympic records on the way to scooping her golds in Greenwich.
Despite dressage being widely seen as elitist in many quarters, Natasha believes the success of Team GB riders will open the sport to a bigger audience.
She said: “Nobody really knew what dressage was before 2012 but now we are known as the dancing horses, so it’s great to put dressage on the map and encourage new young athletes to get involved in equestrian sports.”
Fellow rider Sophie Christiansen, 24, was made an OBE, also for her services to para-equestrianism. She won three gold medals at London 2012.
Talking about her reaction to winning the medal, she said: “I got the medal while I was university studying for my Masters degree and I opened the letter in halls.
“I kind of screamed a little bit and all my flatmates came around and said “what’s wrong, what’s wrong” but I couldn’t tell them.
“They did manage to work it out but I didn’t say anything.
“I’m really honoured to get an OBE this time because this year was such a fantastic year for British sport.”