May 22 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 1, 2012
The 22-year-old sees off challenge from Germans in her Grade II class.
Natasha Baker claimed Britain’s first Equestrian gold of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Greenwich Park this morning when she produced a record-breaking ride on her horse Cabral.
The 22-year-old crowned her Games debut with a Paralympic record for her grade II class, scoring 76.857% to win the Championship test from Germans Britta Napel and Angelika Trabert, who took silver and bronze respectively.
It is Baker’s second international title after she won the European gold last year on the same horse and marks the end of a 12-year quest by the Londoner who was inspired to take up riding after watching the Sydney Paralympics on TV.
“It means absolutely everything,” she said. “From the age of 10 I said I’d come to a Paralympic Games and win a gold medal, and to come to my first Games and win a gold medal, I just never expected that in a million years.
“It is the most amazing feeling ever. My heart was going at a thousand beats a minute.
“I screamed ‘Wow’, and kept screaming ‘Wow’. I couldn’t have asked for any better. I’m really grateful to everyone who came out to watch me. I put it down to all these guys in the crowd.
“It was a nice test the other day,” she added, referring to her individual ride in the Team test on Thursday. “But today I stepped it up a gear.
“I can’t believe how much difference the last two days have made to me as a rider. I am so much stronger, and more confident.”
Baker also praised Cabral for remaining calm in front of the packed stands.
“It was the best warm-up we have ever had,” she said. “Cabral was just so settled and was a lot softer today. I’ve never felt him like that before. He was so chilled. That takes lots of pats and lots of mints.”
Baker’s ride came early in the session and she had to endure a long wait before her victory was confirmed.
“I wasn’t paying attention to the scoring because I was busy texting on my phone,” she admitted, “All of a sudden my phone started ringing off the hook – then I looked up and was told I’d won. I know my battery has gone flat by now.
“It’s just the most incredible feeling in the world, coming to my first Games – a home Games – and to come home with a gold medal. I get a post box and stamps.”
Baker is also grade II European Freestyle champion and will be favourite to win her second London 2012 gold when she competes in that event on Monday.
“What’s better than one medal? Two medals. I’ll be going for another medal on Monday.”
This afternoon she will watch her team-mate Lee Pearson, who won the first three of his nine Paralympic titles in those 2000 Games. He goes for gold number 10 in the grade Ib test at 14:30.
“It will be more nerve-racking watching the other team members do their tests than it was doing mine,” said Baker. “I am just going to be a mess and I may have to go for a walk.”