Bassingbourn woman with intellectual disability wins gold medal at Special Olympics 2017
PUBLISHED: 17:42 16 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:45 16 August 2017
A Bassingbourn woman with an intellectual disability has fought off tough competition - and her own personal challenges - to take gold at the Special Olympics dressage event in Sheffield.
Lucy Warne fell in love with horses after initially starting riding on ponies at the age of three to improve her balance and co-ordination.
She overcame the odds to first win a place on the team with her 21-year-old horse Finnigan a year after the tragic loss of her dad Adrian to suicide in 2014.
Her mum Alison said: “Lucy has achieved so much since her father’s death. She has fought her way back from the depths of despair from the financial struggles we faced since then – at our lowest point Finnigan was residing on our disused tennis court.
“To see her at the Special Olympics winning gold last week was just a dream come true. It has been her dream for so long, so she was quite nervous on the day.
“When she found out she had done it she was absolutely stunned, she watched everyone else being called up, and I thought ‘I don’t know how this is going to go’ and then we found out she had taken first place!”
The 30-year-old’s disability means she functions differently to others her own age – having the intellectual ability of a nine-year-old.
Alison is her full-time carer, and has commended Finnigan for being a key part of her success.
“Finnigan has been her horse for 10 years and he was rather excited to be going along on the day. He was older than the other horses competing but everyone said what good shape he was in. Lucy comes alive when she’s with him, he’s so important to her.
“It was an amazing experience, all of the special needs atheletes were helping each other and supporting each other, and the coaches were brilliant.”
Lucy also won a silver medal in the working trail competition, and another silver for the horse care and knowledge contest, where she scored 94 per cent.
Last month Lucy took part in The RDA National Championships and took top spot in the dressage music freestyle and fourth in the dressage championship test.
In 2016 Lucy was awarded a grant from the Elite Athlete Award Scheme and won the BHS Amateur Rider bursary which helped to pay towards her dressage training and competitions.
Since the event last week Lucy has been awarded £750 from the Rotary Club of Dunmow to put towards training, something mum Alison said they were very pleased about, as Lucy has set her sights on the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Games in 2019 and hopes to be selected.
Alison added: “She trains at Oaklands College in St Albans three times a week, and is very dedicated. It was touch and go as to whether she would get this far but with her grit and determination she has done it, and I couldn’t be more proud.”