Teen rider sets his sights on 2010 olympic gold

2010-06-02 00:00

ANTHONY Dawson, a 15-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, has achieved what doctors never predicted he would.

Medical practitioners said Anthony would never speak, let alone walk; he has proved them all wrong and through his passion, horse riding, he has set his sights on an Olympic gold medal.

Since Anthony was 18 months old, he has been riding horses as a form of therapy. His mother, Jacqui Dawson, said that “at the age of 15, he is continuing to improve while others with similar disabilities could only hope to maintain what had been achieved at an earlier stage in their lives”.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that horse riding has been the single most influential factor in Anthony’s development.”

Anthony achieved gold and silver at SA Championships held in Shongweni, KwaZulu-Natal, in March 2008. This was the first para dressage competition he took part in.

Last year, he won the Wes­tern Province Championship on is horse, Flaming Gun.

Anthony was selected for the KwaZulu-Natal Team to compete in the South African Para Dressage Championships held in December 2009 in Constantia, Cape Town.

At this competition, he won the championship class, making him the South African grade 2 para dressage champion. He also consistently achieved scores that qualified him for selection for Team South Africa for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2010, to be held in Kentucky in the United States during September.

In March this year, Anthony rode in the Gauteng Horse Society Championships in Midrand. Again he achieved scores that qualified him for selection for Team South Africa at WEG 2010.

On April 30, he was told that he had indeed been selected as part of Team SA.

Anthony has also been invited to compete in three British competitions during July this year.

These are considerable achievements for the straight-A student who has no function in the right side of his body.

But what is most remarkable is that he has been selec­ted to ride in the 2012 Para Olympics dressage, although none of this is set in stone.

“I just think I would make a very good ambassador for the country, said a confident Anthony.

“I’m a hopeful prospect for the 2012 Olympics and I’m currently ranked 109th in the world.”

In order to realise his dreams of competing in the WEG and the Olympics, a lot of funding is required. And although his parents are putting in everything they can, it is just not enough.

The Dawsons are looking for sponsors to fund Anthony’s dream and to make history, because he is likely to be the youngest rider at both competitions.

In return, advertising space will be given for equipment for the rider and horse.

Interested parties should phone Jacqui Dawson at 082 567 9995.

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