As Olympic fever grips the nation, a Bourne rider is hoping to follow in the footsteps of medal winners Adam Peaty, Chris Froome and Tom Daley by picking up her own medal at the Paralympics.
Bert Sheffield is delighted to be heading to the Rio Olympics with her horse Double Agent as a member of the Canadian Paralympic dressage team later this month.
A Grade-III para-equestrian, Bert suffers from juvenile idiopathic rheumatoid arthritis, which affects all of her joints, her spine, her hips, and her hands and feet, causing fatigue and decreased mobility.
Despite this, she has an impressive number of accolades to her name, including fourth place in the Freestyle at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, a win at the 2014 Para-Dressage National Championships, second place at the Doha, Al Shaqab Invitational CPEDI3*, and wins and placings at CPEDI3* competitions around Europe, both as an individual and as a member of Team Canada.
Bert, who has dual-nationality, also competes in able-bodied dressage.
Bert said: “It’s an honour to be selected.
“I’ve been working really hard, and this has been my aim with this horse for the last eight years – we’ve been training with this in mind. I’ll be trying to capitalise on my success at the World Equestrian Games.
“If we can pull out our best performance, I would hope that will put us in the running.”
Bert will ride her top horse Double Agent – known as Darcy – at the Rio Olympics.
Bert bought the chestnut mare, by Donnersohn, as an unbacked youngster, and brought her on with the help of Helen Brown and Ashley Gowanlock. Since then, the pair have gone from strength to strength, with consistent results at the CPEDI3* level.
Canadian performance manager David Hunter is confident in his selection.
He said: “I’m delighted with the four riders selected to go to Rio.
“Bert is very experienced and well deserves to be there with Darcy; they have performed well and worked extremely hard. I am proud to be associated with them, and with Team Canada.”
Bert is sponsored by SEIB Insurance Brokers, which is proud to have supported her on her road to Rio by providing her with insurance cover for her horses and horsebox, travel insurance, and freelance instructor’s liability insurance, allowing her to run her business and compete her horses with total peace of mind.
Bert added: “SEIB’s support has been invaluable in making this journey affordable.
“To be supported by such a well-respected insurance company is incredible, and their coverage has given me complete peace of mind, allowing me to focus on riding, training, and competing.”
SEIB marketing manager Nicolina MacKenzie said: “With her attitude and determination, she is such a great ambassador for the sport and a very good person to work with.”