Barwick rides to London Paralympics

Lauren Barwick has been named to the paralympic team that will represent Canada at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, England.

Para-equestrienne Lauren Barwick at home in Aldergrove with Maile after winning the gold and silver medals at the 2008 Hong Kong Paralympic Games. Barwick has now been named to the Canadian team going to the 2012 Paralympics in London.

Para-equestrienne Lauren Barwick at home in Aldergrove with Maile after winning the gold and silver medals at the 2008 Hong Kong Paralympic Games. Barwick has now been named to the Canadian team going to the 2012 Paralympics in London.

Lauren Barwick has been named to the paralympic team that will represent Canada at the 2012 Paralympic Games this summer in London, England.

Barwick, 34, of Aldergrove, was winner of gold and silver medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong.

Barwick will be joined by two other Langley-based competitors Eleonore Elstone and Ashley Gowanlock, who also competed at the 2008 Paralympics. The fourth member of the team, Jody Schloss of Toronto, will be making her Paralympic debut in London. The 2012 Paralympic Games run August 29-September 9 in London.

The Canadian Para-Equestrian team riders have had remarkable success over the past 12 months, achieving podium performances at international events in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and the United States, which has put the team in fourth place in the world heading into the games, said Equine Canada in announcing the team selection.

“I feel very confident that our team is well prepared for the Games,” said National Team Coach Andrea Taylor, who will be accompanying Canada’s team for a second time to the Paralympics. “This team, from the athletes, the support personnel, to the leadership group, works tremendously well together and has a solid history of international experience. We’re ready to go for it!”

Barwick, who rode Maile at the 2008 Games, will be lending Maile to Gowanlock for the 2012 Games. Barwick will also be sharing her mount Ferdonia 2 with Gowanlock, and Barwick will also be riding Off to Paris, owned by Equine Canada.

Elstone will be riding Zareno and Why Not G, and Schloss will be riding her own mount, Inspector Rebus.

Barwick started riding horses at the age of seven. She moved quickly through the ranks of Pony Club and began to compete in both eventing and show jumping.  Barwick was so entranced with the thrill of competition and accomplishment that she dreamed of becoming a professional stunt person specializing in horsemanship.

But Barwick’s life took a tragic turn in 2000, when a bale of hay from an unstable stack fell on top of her. The incident broke her back, and paralyzed her from the waist down. One year after the accident, Barwick shifted her dreams away from stunt riding, and quickly refocused on para-equestrian sport with the help of coach Sandra Verda.

Since delving into para-dressage, Barwick has actively pursued international competition with outstanding success. She earned great results at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, but most remarkable is her gold and silver medal performances at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong. Along with her horse Maile, Barwick’s success helped propel the sport of para-dressage into the spotlight.

A strong support team will accompany the riders and horses to London, including coaches, chef d’équipe, grooms, a physiotherapist and veterinarian, working to ensure that the world-class athletes are fully prepared to achieve greatness at the 2012 Games.

“Canada will once again field a strong equestrian team in what promises to be a memorable competition in iconic Greenwich Park,” said Gaétan Tardif, Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. “I very much look forward to watching our Canadian athletes in action.”

“I am very confident that we have a strong team, with some outstanding horses. We expect to be very competitive at the Games,” said Elizabeth Quigg, chef d’équipe for the Canadian Para-Equestrian Team.

“We have a very talented team of athletes, horses, coaches, and team personnel who have achieved great success over the past year,” said Amie O’Shaughnessy, Director of Para-Equestrian and Paralympic Team Manager at Equine Canada. “The support of Own the Podium, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and Sport Canada combined with the tremendous efforts of the athletes, has ranked the Canadian team fourth in the world heading into the Games, which will make for a very exciting experience in London.”

The selection process for the Canadian Paralympic riders was based on their performances at international events during the qualifying period running between January through to June 1, 2012.

At the Paralympic Games, individual medals are awarded to athletes in the individual and freestyle tests, as well as an overall team medal. Seventy-eight athletes will compete at the Paralympic Games during the 12 days of competition.

Para-Equestrian is one of Canada’s most successful international disciplines, achieving an individual gold medal and an individual silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games, as well as two individual bronze medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games.

Fans can follow the team’s performance during the Games online at Canadian Paralympic Committee, as well as at Equine Canada.

Equine Canada acknowledges the funding contributions of the following partners-Own the Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and Sport Canada.

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