Friday, 2nd June 2023

Multi gold medal winning Paralympian Sophie Christiansen CBE gave a truly compelling interview for the Cardiac Rehab Spring Lecture 2023

In a departure from the usual format for the Cardiac Rehab Spring lecture a different experience was offered this year, in the form of an interview. Cardiac Rehab Trustee Chris Roche did a great job as interviewer, giving Sophie the scope to bring her incredible story to the audience.

Of particular relevance to the work at Cardiac Rehab, Sophie told of how sport has enhanced her ability to challenge the restraints of her cerebral palsy. “Without sport I wouldn’t be as able and fit as I am today”. In a further quote so central to the work we do at Cardiac Rehab in helping those recovering from serious cardiac incidents, Sophie said. “Exercise is so important for everyone, but especially for those with disabilities and health conditions”.

From overcoming her disability with the help of therapeutic riding, Sophie moved onto her sporting challenges. From the critical confidence boost she experienced winning bronze at Athens, her first Paralympic medal at just 16 years of age, to the disappointment of her horse failing her just three days before the start of the Tokyo Paralympics, Sophie went on to explain how her perseverance has paid off, with the incredible haul of gold medal wins at Beijing, London and Rio.

Sophie is now working hard to qualify for Paris next year and her enthusiasm for her new horse Gladstone, known as William, was clear. To help support her in competing, Sophie and her team have set up the Sophie Christiansen CBE Gold Club, to create a unique relationship with sponsors and donors. The Gold Club is also active in helping young disabled riders participate and compete at the highest level in para dressage.

Finally, Sophie spoke about her fight for disability rights, to make a world where the needless barriers of physical access are removed. Sophie’s concerns are wide ranging, from the simple issue of the impassable step at a threshold of a shop, to a transport system which causes unnecessary frustrations just getting into work.

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