Second in Line for Rio

Filed in Sports Recent by April 18, 2016

LISA Martin, from Scone, is currently ranked second in line for the Australian Paralympic equestrian team bound for Rio de Janeiro, but Lisa is concerned for her fellow riders.

While selection has finished in Australia, there are still a few Australian riders in Europe working to qualify for the team, which will be announced on May 26.

Lisa Martin riding First Famous as a grade IV para rider at Boneo Park, Victoria.

Lisa Martin riding First Famous as a grade IV para rider at Boneo Park, Victoria.

Most disabled riders have overcome huge obstacles to compete, but the biggest hurdle for our Australian equestrian Paralympians lies in getting home from Rio.

Because of quarantine laws, riders will need to keep their horses in America or Europe for six months before they can return home.

The costs of getting the riders, their grooms and their horses to and from Rio is paid for, but not the six months they must stay overseas.

To make matters worse riders who are on disability pensions have their pensions cut off by the government after only 28 days of leaving the country to compete.

“It is shocking, there is one young Australian girl in Europe at the moment trying to qualify to ride in our team, she has borrowed a horse over there to compete and things are so tough, she is there on her own she can’t afford anyone to help her and she is struggling now to afford meals because her pension has been cut off,” said Ms Martin.

“I don’t get a disability pension, but so many of these riders need that pension and it is really unfair that it is cut off when they are trying to represent our country and already have such huge costs to bear,” she said.

“Another young rider who was in an horrific accident and is now in a wheelchair needs a lot of support from people to help her and it is financially very tough for them.

“We estimate it is probably at least $7,000 for a family member to go to Rio to watch them compete and for many riders that just won’t be possible,” Lisa Martin said.

The equestrian community is joining together to have fundraising events and set up GoFundMe accounts to help the riders.

Lisa’s Journey to Rio

Lisa who also competes as an able bodied equestrian said when Equestrian Australia approached her to be assessed for the Paralympics her first reaction was absolutely not.

“Initially I said no way, I didn’t think I should compete against someone in a wheelchair, but they said that wasn’t really the way it worked and they started to educate me about the classifications and how paras worked,” Ms Martin said.

“We have the best para riders in the world; we’ve actually won gold before we’re right up there in the top three with our riders,” she said.

“Because they have done so well in the past they generate a lot of funding for other sports, so the better we go the more funding we get.

“So after talking to them I thought why not?

“You don’t often get the opportunity to represent your country at the Olympics,” Lisa Martin said.

Lisa sustained an injury, which left her with a permanent injury when she jumped off a young horse.

“Fifteen years ago I came off a young horse and as a child you are taught if you come off a young horse to land on your feet and I took it to the next level I’ve literally landed on my feet when this horse went off its brain and I shattered my tibia, it went through the joint and destroyed the joint to my ankle so they ended up having to operate several times, because I did it twice, six weeks in between because I then had an accident off my crutches of all things,” she said.

“So they sent me off to Sydney hoping to save it all an arthritis got the better of it only within a month or so, it was an absolute mess, they cut the Achilles tendon, then I got a staph (staphylococcus) infection, there was about 20 operations and in the end they fused the ankle,” she said.

“I’d been in plaster for two years on and off and the bone had become so soft that every time I put my foot on the ground it wold break again,” Lisa Martin said.

To compete as a Paralympian riders need to be assessed by international assessors.

Before a qualifying ride in Boneo Victoria earlier this year Lisa was assess as grade IV.

“I definitely encourage people to be assessed, there is a wonderful support team around the riders and I am really excited to think I may be part of the team,” Lisa Martin said.

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