A student from Newton Abbott has defied doctors by achieving her dream of being in the World Class Podium Potential Para Dressage squad, meaning she is in the team training for the 2020 Paralympic Games.
After completing a gruelling selection process which consisted of score assessments, a riding assessment and a verbal interview, Anna-Mae Cole, 21, was selected to join the prestigious dressage team.
Due to having a number of conditions including Charcot Marie Tooth disease, Cherubism, Scoliosis and also being a wheelchair user, doctors suggested she wouldn’t be able to do any sports, but instead she has excelled in riding and found it a huge source of inspiration and confidence.
Anna-Mae puts her success down to her time spent training in Equine Studies at Bicton College. She started on a Level 2 programme and has recently completed her Level 3, alongside surgery, training and competing.
On joining the college, Anna-Mae had no previous experience with dressage – until the Yard Manager suggested she tried it. Once she had given it a go she was hooked and her career took off from there.
“I had ridden before coming to Bicton, but dressage wasn’t even on my radar,” commented Anna-Mae.
“Bicton gave me the confidence to give it a go and I’ve never looked back. I couldn’t have done any of it without the constant support and advice from the staff at Bicton College, and I can’t thank them enough.”
As part of the equine course at Bicton , Anna-Mae was able to ride three or four times a week, and was selected to be in the Elite Riding Academy with Alex Robinson-Barr, which she said enabled her to really improve her technique and “grow as a rider”.
Alex Robinson-Barr, Team Lead for Equine at Bicton College, has mentored Anna-Mae over her time at college and said she “is a fantastic student and we are all very proud of what she has achieved”.
“She has completed her studies alongside personal medical complications – and the whole time she has been training and competing all over the country at a phenomenal standard,” she continued.
“Anna-Mae is an inspiration to us all, and we can’t wait to see her on our televisions in 2020 – fingers crossed!”
Anna-Mae wanted to thank her sponsors for enabling her to make her dream reality – Keith Evans Equine Dentistry, Gillian Tabor Charted Physiotherapist and Mil Mos in Exmouth.
Bicton College is extremely pleased for Anna-Mae and wishes her every success in the future.
To find out more about the range of Equine courses available at Bicton College visit www.bicton.ac.uk or call 0845 60 50 455.