October 25 - Five-time Paralympic equestrian gold medallist Sophie Christiansen has visited youngsters at David Lloyd Maidenhead fresh of the back of her star turn at the London 2012 Paralympics.
The 24-year-old from Berkshire, who has cerebral palsy, stormed to three gold medals at Greenwich Park during the Paralympics in the individual, team and freestyle dressage events to add to the two gold medals she won at Beijing 2008.
Christiansen, who is a member at the club in Grenfell Place, delighted youngsters by bringing along her medals for all to see and touch.
"Everyone has been speaking about how the London 2012 Paralympics were the biggest and best in history and how they have inspired a whole nation and the next generation of sports participants," she said.
"It was truly wonderful to see so many children at David Lloyd Maidenhead who wanted to meet me and I was touched by their genuine excitement.
"It's fantastic that so many children now have an increased awareness of the Paralympics and understand that there are no barriers to doing sport and achieving your dreams.
"Outsiders would say my biggest challenge was my disability but, to me, having a disability is normal.
"Certain things may pose more of a challenge, but there are ways of working around it.
"I wouldn't have had a chance to compete in the Paralympics without my disability and it has made me who I am."
Christiansen was one of 36 David Lloyd athletes selected for Team GB and ParalympicsGB at the London 2012 Games, with almost a third winning medals.
"There has been a real buzz in the club since the Games and Sophie is a true sporting hero to so many people," said David Lloyd Maidenhead general manager Neil Austin.
"We are very proud to have her as our member and were absolutely delighted that she visited the club with her gold medals to show the children, who have been inspired by the Paralympics and really look up to their very own champion athlete – they will never forget such a special day."
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